Child Passenger Safety Behaviors in Latino Communities

Although national data show that belt-positioning booster seats protect children four to eight years old from serious injury 59 percent better than seat belts alone, rates of booster seat use are low, particularly among Latino families. This study seeks to determine what behavioral factors pose barriers to booster seat use in the Latino community and how interventions could be tailored to facilitate greater compliance with safety recommendations.

The researchers conducted one-to-one elicitation interviews with 56 mothers and 35 fathers who self-identified as Latino in an urban county and a rural county in Washington State. Key motivators for booster seat users were child safety and concern about receiving a ticket. Parents who did not use a booster seat cited cost as a factor, although other parents who used booster seats mentioned that they are relatively inexpensive. A child's resistance to using the seat, and the belief that the child was too big or too old for it, posed barriers to use, as well as unfamiliarity with booster seat recommendations. In interviews, families indicated that radio (rural communities) and television (urban communities) are preferred methods for reaching Latino families. The authors conclude that a social marketing campaign based on the most commonly identified themes from this research and cost reduction strategies may help overcome barriers to booster seat use among Latinos. Based on this study's findings, they are developing messages to be used in a controlled community intervention.