Improper Restraint Use in Pediatric Patients Involved in Motor Vehicle Collisions

Eva M. Urrechaga, Alessia C. Cioci, Megan K. Allen, Rebecca A. Saberi, Gareth P. Gilna, Alexa G. Turpin, Eduardo A. Perez, Henri R. Ford, Juan E. Sola, Chad M. Thorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) are the leading cause of unintentional death among children and adolescents; however, public awareness and use of appropriate restraint recommendations are perceived as deficient. We aimed to investigate the use of child safety restraints and examine outcomes in our community. Methods: We retrospectively queried a level 1 trauma registry for pediatric (0-18 y) MVC patients from October 2013 to December 2018. Demographic and clinical variables were recorded. Data regarding appropriate restraint use by age group were examined. Results: Four hundred thirty-four cases of pediatric MVC were identified. Overall, 53% were improperly restrained or unrestrained. Sixty-two percent of car seat age and 51% of booster age children were improperly restrained or unrestrained altogether. Fifty-nine percent of back seat riding, seatbelt age were improperly restrained/unrestrained, with 26% riding in the front. Fifty-one percent of seatbelt-only adolescents were not belted. Black, non-Hispanic children were more often improperly restrained/unrestrained compared to Hispanics (63% versus 48%, P = 0.001). Improperly restrained/unrestrained children had higher injury severity (10% versus 4% Injury Severity Score > 25, P = 0.021), require operative/interventional radiology (33% versus 19%, P = 0.001), and be discharged to rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility (5.2% versus 1.5%, P = 0.033). Mortality in adolescents was higher among those unrestrained (5.2% versus 0.8%, P = 0.034). Conclusions: Although efforts to improve adherence to restraint regulations have greatly increased in the last decade, more than half of children in MVC are still improperly restrained. Injury prevention services and community outreach is essential to educate the most vulnerable populations, especially those with infants and toddlers, on adequate motor vehicle safety measures in our community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • MVC
  • Pediatric
  • Restraint
  • Seatbelt
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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