Begin by Conducting a Child Safety Seat Survey in your community – 

Collecting data is an important step towards reducing motor vehicle injuries. It shows your community that people care about child safety seat use. It’s helpful to assess how kids ride in vehicles and to know what proportion are using seats. This will help you track your progress over time. It also helps to know where to focus your efforts – for example, you might find out that you need to distribute more booster seats, or help grandparents know how to use car seats. With data, you can set goals for your community and measure your improvements.

There are two types of assessments you can choose to conduct in your community


Survey Type #1: No contact vehicle observations

This type of survey takes less time and is a good option if you have data collectors who are good at estimating kids’ ages. It also meets the data requirement to apply for Indian Highway Safety Program funds. 


             It’s fast

             Can do observations in parking lots or at stop signs, if it’s safe 

             A good option during flu season or a pandemic


            You can’t include driver interview questions

             It can be hard to see how kids are restrained (tinted windows, multiple kids in                 one car, no-back booster can be hard to spot)


Survey Type #2: Observational interviews

If you would like to know the proportion of children riding in an age and size appropriate restraint, such as rear-facing infant seats, forward-facing harness seats, booster seats, as well as regular seat belts, use the Native CARS survey method presented in this module. This type of survey gives you detailed insight into child safety seat use in your community.

You will then know where to focus your time and resources, because you will know which children are at highest risk for riding improperly restrained.

A Tip from the Team:

Here are some examples of how survey information helped tribes focus their efforts.

Example:  Tribe A discovered that children age 4-7 were using adult seat belts without a booster seat. They did school outreach and a media campaign promoting booster seat use. When they repeated the survey two years later, they saw a significant increase in booster seat use in the tribe.

Example:  Tribe B discovered that children riding with someone other than his or her own parent were less likely to be properly restrained. The tribe extended their child safety seat distribution program to include grandparents, aunties, or others who regularly transport children. They created posters and billboards showing grandparents securing their grandchildren in child safety seats. Two years later, they saw a significant increase in child safety seat use for children riding with grandparents.

The survey includes observations and questions that you need to determine if the child is in the correct restraint, along with additional things that have been shown to be related to proper child restraint. Collecting this information will tell you if these are also risk factors in your community.

Each survey takes about 1-2 minutes, depending on how many children are in the vehicle. If there are more than two children in the vehicle, use multiple survey forms and fill in the child passenger section for child #3, 4, and so on.

The Survey

Paper survey download link: Word version | PDF version

If your tribe is considering changing tribal child safety seat policy, you can document community support for it by adding an additional question to the survey, such as:

  • Would you support a tribal child safety seat law?


The next section will help you decide when and where to do your surveys, and how many surveys to do.