Protecting children: a survey of caregivers’ knowledge of Georgia’s child restraint laws
Sheryl Strasser1, Laurie Whorton2, Amanda J Walpole3, Sarah Beddington1
1Institute of Public Health, Partnership for Urban Health Research, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA; 2WellStar Corporate and Community Health, Marietta, GA, USA; 3Cobb and Douglas Public Health, Marietta, GA, USA
Introduction: The leading cause of injury and death among children in the United States is motor vehicle crashes. Even though restraint laws are in place and public awareness campaigns and educational interventions have increased, many children are still improperly restrained or not restrained at all. When correctly used, child restraints significantly reduce risk of injury or death.
Methods: The purpose of the study was to elicit caregiver baseline knowledge of car seat installation and regulation before receiving car seat education from certified technicians at Inspection Station events. Inspection Station is a program whereby staff assists parents in correctly positioning car seats in participants’ vehicles. Over an 8-week period, Safe Kids Cobb County Car Seat Technicians distributed a 16-item survey, with 10 knowledge-based questions and six demographic questions to Inspection Station participants. Descriptive statistics and t-tests were conducted to assess relationships between participant age, ethnicity, and gender with overall knowledge scores. Regression analysis was run to determine the association between participant education level and total child restraint knowledge.
Results: One hundred sixty-nine surveys were completed. Participant knowledge of vehicular child restraint ranged from 0% to 90% on all items. Only 29.6% of caregivers understood the proper tightness of the harness system. Less than half of the caregivers (43.8%) were aware of the Georgia law requiring children aged 6 years and younger to be in some type of child restraint. Only 43.2% of caregivers surveyed knew that children need to ride in a rear-facing child restraint until 1 year of age and 20 pounds. No significant correlations between participant knowledge and age were found. Statistically significant associations were found between total knowledge scores and education level, ethnicity, and gender.
Discussion: The results from this study describe baseline knowledge among a sample of participants at Inspection Station activities held in Cobb County, Georgia. These results can help inform tailoring of future programming so that the impact of enhanced health education/prevention messages for intended populations can be maximized and health child injury risk related to improper restraints can be minimized.
Keywords: child injury, car seats, knowledge survey
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