Use of an app that provided tailored child passenger safety advice was associated
with improvements in correct use of car seats and other safety behaviors, according
to a randomized, controlled trial of 742 parents.
Less than half of children ages 4-7 years old ride in booster seats, and 20% of booster
seats are used incorrectly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The authors of this study created an app to help parents use the correct car seat
consistently and encourage them to have it inspected by a certified child passenger
safety technician. They tested the app’s effectiveness in a study of parents with
children ages 4-7 recruited in two emergency departments.
The intervention group (IG) downloaded the car seat app on their phone, while the
control group (CG) used a fire safety app. Participants then answered questions and
received tailored education based on their responses.
Parents completed surveys at baseline and three and six months later to find out if
they were using the correct restraint for the child’s age and weight; whether the
child rode in the backseat and was buckled up all of the time; and if a certified
technician had inspected the car seat.
After adjusting for baseline behaviors, statistically significant improvements among
the IG compared to the CG were seen at three months for using the correct car seat
(OR= 2.07), having the child ride in the back seat all the time (OR=2.37) and for
having the car seat inspected (OR=1.99). At six months, statistically significant
differences were found for using the correct car seat (OR=1.84) and having the car
seat inspected (OR=1.73).
“Computer technology makes it possible to reach large populations efficiently, and
from the results in this sample, mobile apps hold promise for promoting child passenger
safety,” the authors concluded.