Motorized Vehicle Occupant Protection

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) strongly supports the use of appropriate seat restraints and safety features by all occupants of motor vehicles. Members are encouraged to take an active role in developing strategies to promote increased use and availability of restraint systems and safety features of motor vehicles.

Best practices in use of child restraint systems (CRS) depend upon both the child’s size and age. Children should use a rear-facing harnessed CRS until they outgrow the size guidelines of the product, with rear-facing restraint at least through age two. After outgrowing a rear-facing CRS, the next step is to use a harnessed forward-facing child restraint, again until the child outgrows the size limits of the product. Most forward-facing CRS have a minimum weight of 20 pounds for use in forward-facing mode. Maximum weights for forward-facing harnessed mode range from 40 to 80 pounds. 

After children outgrow their harnessed CRS, they should use belt-positioning booster seats. To effectively use a seat belt alone, the child should be able to sit so that the buttocks touch the vehicle seatback with the legs hanging comfortably over the seat front, with the belt crossing the shoulder between the neck and arm with the lap belt as low as possible touching the thighs. The child should be able to maintain this seated position for the entire trip.

The AAFP recommends rear-facing car safety seats for infants up to two years; forward-facing car safety seats for children through four years; booster seats, which appropriately position seat belts for most children through eight years; lap and shoulder seat belts for children who have outgrown booster seats and for all adults. All children 12 years and younger should ride in the rear passenger seats
of motor vehicles.

The AAFP recommends lap and shoulder seat belts for all adults.

The AAFP supports legislation that mandates occupant restraint systems.

(1983)(2014 COD) (Dec 2019 BOD)