Anchorage Safe Communities: Improving Use of Child Safety Seats (2000)

Brian Saylor, PhD, MPH 
Keith Busch, CPA 
Stacy L. Smith, MFA


Children who have not been safely restrained with seat belts or child seats are sometimes injured in car crashes. Although Alaska law requires seat belt and car seat use, many people do not comply. Between 1991 and 1995, 130 to 200 moving traffic citations were issued annually for violations of the mandatory child restraint law (APD, 1995 Annual Statistical Report). Noncompliance may be due to the high cost of purchasing approved seats, the user’s unfamiliarity with the proper use of child restraints, and the user’s lack of understanding regarding the effectiveness of child restraints in reducing motor vehicle injuries.


The Anchorage Safe Communities Coalition selected improved use of child restraints as one of the interventions they believed would help reduce motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities. The initial plan of this intervention was to encourage safe car seat use for children. Families who could benefit from the program may be identified in two ways:


1. Car Seat Hotline: Citizens were solicited to call a free "hotline" if they viewed cars with unrestrained children. With license plate records identified through the hotline, names and addresses of potential families in need were identified and sent letters with an opportunity to purchase car seats on a sliding fee scale. Those who accepted the car seat offer were also given personalized instructions on proper car seat use.


2. Participation in a Public Program: Families with young children who were enrolled in Women Infants and Children (WIC), Child Care Assistance, Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP) or other programs that address the needs of families with young children were asked to join the car seat program.


This evaluation report presented preliminary data on the initial assessment of community perceptions of the planned program, an evaluation of the extent to which trainees met the learning objectives of the modified National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) training on the use of care seats, and an extensive student assessment of the training process.


A child car seat training workshop in Anchorage was replicated in other parts of the state. This report presents Anchorage data and Kenai data, comparing pretest and post-test scores that measure participant knowledge of child car seat use. Pretest scores offered a way to identify the participant’s current level of understanding of child car seat use. Post-test scores, when compared against pretest scores, measured the overall level of participant absorption and learning, and helped identify popularly held misconceptions. A questionnaire was also used to measure the participant’s satisfaction with the workshop.


Download the Anchorage Safe Communities Final Report (422 KB, pdf)