Protection of occupants in motor vehicle crashes has evolved into a technical and complex multidisciplinary field. Issues related to occupant safety have been addressed at both the national and international level, resulting in major public health policies and standards to govern occupant protection and the manufacture of vehicles. Those providing health care for children are in a unique position to influence injury prevention behaviors and, therefore, must be aware of the latest recommendations for child occupant protection.

Motor vehicle safety is based on the science of human factors and engineering, biomechanics of crashes, and epidemiologic studies of injuries to occupants in crashes. The redesign of roads, vehicles, and restraint systems emanates from these investigations. Examples of vehicle modifications aimed at improved occupant protection include shatter-proof glass, bumpers, and other energy-absorbing exterior structures that can withstand crash forces. Changes in the interior of the vehicle to create a more “friendly” environment...

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