Child passenger safety

Issue - Child passenger safety

Child on a rear-facing car seatMotor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children. Action must be taken to reduce the risk of crashes. Steps must also be taken to reduce the risk of injury when a crash occurs.

Problem - Low booster seat use

Car crashes kill more children than any other cause of injury in Canada. What amounts to over two classrooms of children die in cars each year, and thousands more are injured.

Solution - Mandatory booster seat use

When installed correctly, putting a child in a car seat reduces the chances of injury or death by as much as 75 per cent and booster seats provide up to 60 per cent more protection than seatbelts alone. Children must be in the correct car seat for their stage of physical development in order to be protected. 

While at least 75 per cent of young children are restrained in car seats, Transport Canada research found that nearly three-quarters of Canadian children between ages four to nine were not protected by booster seats. 

Car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 per cent for infants under age one and 54 per cent for children ages one to four.

Car seats reduce the risk of hospitalization by 67 per cent for children age four and under.

Currently, eight provinces require booster seat use.  Car seat laws in Canada

Booster seat legislation

Research demonstrates that booster seat legislation is an effective way to ensure that children are placed in the correct car seat for their stage of physical development.  Currently, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have booster seat legislation in place.  Education, enforcement and increased government investment in child passenger safety, are also needed to make Canada’s roads the safest possible for children and youth.

Investing in research related to the design and use of car seats; making child restraint safety a priority in preventive care, and having health professionals assess child restraint use as part of patient visits, are strategies that can be implemented in order to increase the level of children’s safety on Canada’s roads.     

Road safety measures - Speed Reduction:


Children are more likely to be struck by a car in areas with higher speed limits.


There is a direct correlation between an increase in vehicle speeds and the increase of the risk of injury. A pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 50 km/h is eight times more likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck at 30 km/h.


Even small reductions in speed can be significant. For each 1.6 km/hr reduction in average speed, collision frequency is reduced by 5 per cent. Reducing vehicle speed has been proven to be effective in preventing crashes and reducing the severity of injuries.

Environmental or physical characteristics can either encourage or discourage speeding and can greatly influence the frequency and severity of pedestrian-related crashes. Traffic calming measures can include implementing physical changes such as speed bumps, road narrowing, pedestrian islands or curb extensions. Changes to speed limits and initiating strategies to target driver behavior are also effective. 

All these approaches help to create a new awareness of the impact of speed, the importance of being mindful of pedestrians, and being conscious of one’s own driving habits.

Tools and resources

For more information on child passenger safety please see: