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Evidence that Seat Belts are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up

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  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

Over the last thirty years, the use of child safety seats in motor vehicles has increased dramatically, fueled by well publicized information campaigns and legal mandates. In spite of this movement, there is relatively little empirical evidence regarding the efficacy of child safety seats relative to the much cheaper alternative of traditional seat belts. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) on all fatal crashes in the United States from 1975-2003, I find that child safety seats, in actual practice, are no better than seat belts at reducing fatalities among children aged 2-6. This result is robust to a wide range of sensitivity analyses, including controlling for sample selection that arises because the FARS data set includes only crashes in which at least one fatality occurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven D. Levitt, 2005. "Evidence that Seat Belts are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up," NBER Working Papers 11591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11591
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cohen, Alma & Dehejia, Rajeev, 2004. "The Effect of Automobile Insurance and Accident Liability Laws on Traffic Fatalities," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 357-393, October.
    2. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
    3. David C. Grabowski & Michael A. Morrisey, 2004. "Gasoline prices and motor vehicle fatalities," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 575-593.
    4. Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 1987. "Drinking Age Laws and Highway Mortality Rates: Cause and Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(3), pages 403-417, July.
    5. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
    6. Lave, Charles & Elias, Patrick, 1997. "Resource Allocation in Public Policy: The Effects of the 65-MPH Speed Limit," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 614-620, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lauren E. Jones & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2017. "U.S. Child Safety Seat Laws: Are they Effective, and Who Complies?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(3), pages 584-607, June.
    2. Lauren E. Jones & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2016. "Successful Scientific Replication and Extension of Levitt (2008): Child Seats are Still No Safer Than Seat Belts," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(5), pages 920-928, August.
    3. Joseph J. Doyle & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Child Safety Seats And Seat Belts In Protecting Children From Injury," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 521-536, July.
    4. Molitor, Ramona, 2017. "Publicly announced speed limit enforcement and its impact on road safety: Evidence from the German Blitzmarathons," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-75-17, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    5. Anderson, D. Mark & Sandholt, Sina, 2016. "Booster Seats and Traffic Fatalities among Children," IZA Discussion Papers 10071, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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