Safe Routes to School

Image of school kids walking and smiling

What is Safe Routes to School?

Denver's Safe Routes to School program serves school communities to create safe, equitable environments for travelling to and from school while creating opportunities that enable physical activity and lower the obesity rate and risk for children and their families and caregivers.


Resources and FAQ

How does Denver's SRTS Program work with school communities?

Denver Public Schools (DPS)

  • We partner with Denver Public School's Department of Safety & the Crossing Guard Program.
  • We work with School Administrations to address traffic safety concerns and create drop-off plans or travel plans.
  • We partner with DPS’s Transportation for bus loading services & zones.
  • We partner within DOTI to review and recommend safety enhancements and multimodal accessibility in school zones.

Parents and Caregivers

  • Join us in practicing and promoting safe travel habits in and around school zones.
  • Submit school-related concerns to 311 or report online, or through the resource inbox at SRTS@Denvergov.org.
  • Organize and provide walking school buses, bicycle trains, or other safety-related programming to get kids actively travelling to school.  We can provide guidance and subject-matter expertise regarding these programs.

Students

  • Provide experience to the Safe Routes to School program to help us understand how to enhance safe walking, bicycling, and rolling routes to their school from their perspectives. Student input is critical to understand how DOTI can plan the transportation system to prioritize their needs.

Teachers


Community Residents Near Schools

  • Join us in practicing and promoting safe travel habits in and around school zones.
  • Submit school-related concerns to 311 or report online, or through the resource inbox at SRTS@Denvergov.org.

Why Safe Routes to School?

Health and safety are key benefits of Safe Routes to School.  Studies have shown that the community benefits from Safe Routes to School initiatives include:

  • Safer students: Improved traffic safety and increased confidence for students through opportunities to learn about and practice road safety.
  • Healthier students: Increased daily physical activity, forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime, helping students build strong bones, muscles, and joints, and decreasing the risk of chronic disease and obesity.
  • Better focus: Increased daily physical activity yields more awake and alert students, which can lead to better focus and concentration and improved academic performance.
  • School transportation improvements: Solutions to school transportation issues such as hazardous traffic congestion during pick-up/drop-off times, and student absences and tardiness due to transportation challenges.
  • Community connections: Increased family and community engagement, providing positive social opportunities for students and families.
  • Healthier environment: Reduced idling times during drop-off and pick-up, combined with more carpooling, walking, and/or biking to school results in cleaner air and reduced asthma rates. 

View our Safe Routes to School International Handout

Download the “Benefits of Safe Routes to School” Poster

Safe Travel Guidelines for Drop Off, Pick Up, and Traveling Through School Zones

We can often feel rushed when we are taking our children to and from school. To increase safety, health, & performance of our students, Denver Safe Routes to School (SRTS) encourages students and families to walk, bike, or bus when possible. 

For the safety of our students and community:

  • Do not make u-turns or 3-point turns within school zones
  • Avoid across-the-street drop-offs and pick-ups that cause children to cross the street (especially mid-block)
  • Always have children enter/exit vehicles on sidewalk sides
  • Avoid distractions like cell phones, eating, etc. while driving
  • Follow all signage and posted speed limits
  • Do not park or stop in the school bus loading zone, in intersections, or in any moving travel lanes, including bike lanes

If your school utilizes a kiss-and-go or drop-off/pick-up lane:

  • Please approach the lane via the proper direction
  • Pull fully over into the kiss-and-go zone and wait your turn as you approach the front of the kiss-and-go lane
  • A staff or parent volunteer will open the passenger-side car door and help the student unload
  • Follow directions given by school administration

Looking to create a drop-off/pick-up plan or kiss-and-go lane at your school? Have your school administration contact us at srts@denvergov.org for best practices and support.

How to submit a Safe Routes to School Support Request through 311

We are transitioning our support requests to a process that we hope will better support your needs. While we are transitioning this process, please submit your request by calling 311 and be sure to include one (1) of the following statements in your request to ensure that we receive it: 

Please note: Denver’s 311 operators have specific questions they will ask you (for example, what school are your concerns related to? Who is the best person to contact at a school?). 

  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like recommendations on how to increase safety at drop off and pick up.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like the best options that encourage more walking, biking, or carpooling to school in our school community.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like to host some safety education events at our school and seek your support.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like to host some walking and/or biking safety education events at our school and seek your support.
  • Or if you have a different request start it with: This is a Safe Routes to School request and <insert your specific need here>. 

Save the case number you are given in case you have questions about the status of your request.

Safe Routes to School Action Plan

The Safe Routes to School team have been hard at work between 2020-2021 creating Denver’s first, comprehensive, five-year Action Plan for the Safe Routes to School Program.  The Action Plan’s overall goal is to double the mode-share of families who walk or bike to school, from about 14% in 2022 to 30% by 2027.  The Action Plan contains 50 goals to accomplish by the end of 2027, categorized within 8 focus areas.  The Action Plan includes a data-driven approach using typologies and overlays to create a school prioritization list.  Additional information can be found at the links below. 

For a brief overview of the development process of the Safe Routes Action Plan as well as an explanation of some of the tools and outcomes of the plan, please see this ArcGIS StoryMap that was created.

Safe Routes to School Documents:

Safe Routes to School Action Plan(PDF, 30MB)

Safe Routes to School Prioritization Matrix + Methodology(PDF, 487KB)

Education and Encouragement Opportunities

Are you a staff member at a school or a parent who is interested in helping with Safe Routes to School programming at your local school? Here are some resources and ideas to get you started: 

CommuteDPS 

Denver Public Schools partnered with other Denver stakeholders to develop CommuteDPS, a resource for families, students, and school leaders to help improve transportation at schools in Denver.  Please view the documentation that DPS has at the following link: CommuteDPS


Denver Public Schools Crossing Guard Program 

The City and County of Denver and Denver Public Schools have partnered to train and staff Crossing Guards to enhance the safety of families and students arriving to and leaving Denver schools.   

More information about the program can be found here: School Crossing Guard Program Information


Teacher Champion Program

Looking for ways to encourage walking, biking, and transportation safety for youth and families at your school? Check out our educational modules available by request here! These are meant to be delivered in a classroom setting for ages K-5. Some modules have take-home components to do with families and adults.  The modules are:

  • Basic Helmet Fit & Bike Check module to increase safety and success while bike riding,
  • Child Passenger Safety while riding in a car, whether it be in a car seat, a booster seat, or with a seatbelt,
  • Safe Walking, Rolling, and Biking tips for route planning & building confidence getting around on sidewalks and streets, and
  • Safe Drop-Off teaches children, staff, families, and caregivers tips, ideas, and tools to help school drop-off go safely and smoothly. 

Each of these great modules includes a kid-friendly educational video with subtitles in English and Spanish, as well as plenty of valuable resources like lesson-plans and take-home handouts for students, parents, and teachers alike.

Request access to the education modules here: SRTS Education Modules Request Form


DRCOG Schoolpool

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), as a part of their Way to Go Transportation Demand Management strategies, offers the Schoolpool program in the Denver region.  The Schoolpool program is free to schools to help connect parents and caregivers with each other to find ways to walk, bike, roll, or carpool together to their school locations while building community.  Visit DRCOG’s Schoolpool website to learn more: DRCOG Schoolpool


Walking Audits

Walking audits can help identify safety concerns in proximity to the school and can be conducted by school staff or a school PTA/PTO. For instance, School Safety Zones are set up in a standardized approach by DOTI, and sometimes signs are knocked down, or signs and/or roadway striping has faded.  These issues and more can be documented and provided to Denver’s Safe Routes to School program to help ensure school zones are communicated to roadway users in a uniform and accurate way.


Walking School Bus

A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a program organized like a traditional bus stop and route, with the exception that the students are walking instead of riding a bus. A WSB has designated routes that are led by a WSB Adult Leader and designated "stops" along those routes at set times where students can join the WSB to walk to school in a group under adult supervision.


Bicycle Trains

A Bicycle Train is a program organized like a traditional bus stop and route, with the exception that the students are riding bikes instead of riding a bus. A Bicycle Train has designated routes that are led by a Bicycle Train Adult Conductor and designated "stops" along those routes at set times where students can join the Bicycle Train to bike to school in a group under adult supervision.


Remote Drop Off/Pick Up

Remote Drop-Off is a policy that encourages or requires parents to drop students off at a location a few blocks from the school. This policy can either rely on parents or volunteers/school staff to walk student(s) from the remote drop-off location to the school building.  Consider locations near the school that might be able to facilitate remote drop-offs and see if a partnership can be identified (for example, using a nearby parking lot to try to alleviate traffic pressure immediately around the school).


Kiss-and-Go Lane

Kiss-and-Go lanes are an operational improvement to help increase the efficiency of arrival and dismissal at schools.  The Kiss-and-Go Lane generally consists of a marked loading/unloading section that is directly outside the school’s main entrance or one of the main entrances, requires parents/caregivers to stay in their vehicle, and requires the vehicle to remain running and to follow the flow of traffic through the line.

Some aspects of Kiss-and-Go operations that are most successful:

  • Highly recommended to have dedicated staff/volunteers to supervise, maintain
    • 2-3 people are necessary to operate kiss-and-go
    • One or two people should be established at the “front” of the line to open & close car doors and welcome children to school
    • One person can “float” alongside the lane to continue to encourage drivers to pull forward to the front of the line, where children exit a vehicle 
  • Use of traffic cones to denote where the kiss-and-go lane is established and to dissuade parents from pulling out of the lane early
  • Signage at the start and stop of the kiss-and-go with instructional information
    • Denver’s Safe Routes to School Program has further information on information that can be printed and added to self-standing “A-Frames” that can be used for Kiss-and-Go lanes

Safe Routes to School Design and Construction Projects

Infrastructure Projects: SRTS is dedicated to improving the built environment where Denver students travel to and from school. See the list below for current updates on engineering design and construction projects. These projects were identified following Travel Plan studies or because of other planning initiatives that DOTI identified.


Cole Campus Enhancements: Status – Construction

Description: The Cole Campus enhancements is planned to be installed in 2022 at two locations on Bruce Randolph Avenue: Humboldt and Franklin Streets.  The enhancements will install concrete curb extensions at the corners for the school, shortening pedestrian crossings, increasing visibility at the intersections for all roadway users, and slowing turning vehicle movements for these critical intersections that connect to the Cole Arts and Sciences (CASA) and DSST: Byers Middle and High School Campus locations. 

This project is being constructed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Safe Routes to School Grant funding that was awarded to Denver to improve connections to schools that encourages families/caregivers and students to walk, bike, or roll to their school of choice.


McAuliffe International Campus Enhancements: Status – Construction Procurement

Description: The improvements for the McAuliffe International School will enhance connectivity to the school by constructing new sidewalks, implementing a pedestrian refuge island to improve pedestrian access, and installing a new streetlight.  These improvements will fill gaps in the pedestrian network and enhance crossings on the south side of the school. The installation is anticipated to begin in either 2022 or early 2023.   

This project is being constructed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Safe Routes to School Grant funding that was awarded to Denver to improve connections to schools that encourages families/caregivers and students to walk, bike, or roll to their school of choice.   

See more information about the project here:  


Greenlee Elementary School: Status – Engineering Design

Description: In partnership with the Neighborhood Transportation Management Program (NTMP), and as identified in the La Alma Lincoln Park NTMP Action Plan (2020) two intersections will be improved that provide access to Greenlee Elementary on Kalamath Street at W 12th and W 11th Avenues.  Both intersections will be enhanced with paint-and-post curb extensions and hardened centerlines to slow turning vehicles, and the paint-and-post curb extensions will also shorten pedestrian crossings and enhance pedestrian visibility.  These project locations were prioritized by the neighborhood stakeholder group that worked closely with the NTMP Action Plan’s study and development.


Montbello Travel Plan Pedestrian Refuge Islands: Status – Engineering Design

Description: The Safe Routes to School Program completed two Travel Plans in late 2021 that included recommendations to enhance pedestrian crossings at two schools: Maxwell Elementary and DCIS at Ford Elementary.  Two pedestrian islands will be installed at each of the schools that will enhance driver visibility of pedestrians crossing the roadway, allow crossings to be completed in two stages, and provide traffic calming at/along the two schools.  Design is anticipated to be completed in 2022 for these projects.  The installation locations include: 

  • Maxwell Elementary: Dillion Street at Bolling Drive & Dillon Street at Deephaven Court
  • DCIS at Ford: Maxwell Place at Dearborn Street and N Sable Street

Holm Elementary Sidewalk Construction: Status – Construction Procurement 

Description: In partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation, Safe Routes to School provided funding to help enhance a walkway that is currently non-ADA compliant to be rebuilt into a full concrete walkway to improve access to Holm Elementary.  For more information, please see the documentation that has been presented by Denver Parks and Recreation: 

Safe Routes to School Plans and Studies

Travel Plan Study

A Travel Plan is a planning study that works directly with schools to identify the challenges and constraints using active transportation to walk, bike, or roll to and from school.  Travel Plan Studies typically last for 6-9 months, and include opportunities to hear from school leaders, parents, caregivers, and students.  The conclusion of a Travel Plan study provides a report that identifies infrastructure and programming recommendations that the Safe Routes to School Program can work with schools to complete.

Travel Plans are conducted at schools using the Safe Routes to School Action Plan’s Prioritization Matrix.


Cole Campus Travel Plans: Status – Study

  • Description: The Safe Routes to School team has been working with the Cole Campus since September 2021 to understand challenges and concerns about travelling to and from school using active modes of travel.  The Travel Plan is nearing completion with a prioritized list of operational and project opportunities to be programmed through the SRTS program for completion.  The Travel Plan Study is set to be published in 2022.

Evie Dennis Travel Plans: Status – Study 

  • Description: The Safe Routes to School team began engagement with the Evie Dennis Campus in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods in Spring 2022.  The first round of engagement has been completed alongside a site visit at the school to see challenges firsthand, and the project team heard from each school’s leaders.   

The project team will be finalizing existing conditions during the 2022 summer break and will be gearing up for engagement opportunities with families/caregivers and students in Fall 2022.

2022 Education and Encouragement Projects

Description: In 2021, the City and County of Denver’s Safe Routes to School Team applied for a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) non-infrastructure grant to pilot bicycle and pedestrian safety education using Teacher Champions at three Denver schools.

The pilot program kicked off in the Spring of 2022 with 6 Teacher Champions at 3 different schools in Denver: Castro Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Maxwell Elementary.  The pilot program completed its first semester, hosted a range of Bike and Roll activities during the month of March, and are working on end-of-semester data.  The grant pilot program will continue through the 2022-2023 school year at the three partner schools.

Past Safe Routes to School Projects

Ruby Hill Pedestrian Enhancements

The Ruby Hill SRTS Pedestrian Enhancements focused on pedestrian treatments near two elementary schools: Schmitt and Godsman Elementary Schools.  Four pedestrian islands in total were constructed, and a flashing beacon was upgraded to a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon.  These improvements were installed at:

  • Florida Avenue at Tejon and Nevada Streets
  • Jewell Avenue at Tejon and Vallejo Streets
  • Pedestrian Activated Flashing Beacon: Florida at Navajo Street 

This project was funded as a part of the Grandoozy Funding to enhance multimodal safety in the Ruby Hill/Overland area. 


Maxwell Elementary School Travel Plan Study

The Maxwell Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and identify projects for implementation, starting in 2020 and finalizing in 2021.


DCIS at Ford Travel Plan Study

The DCIS at Ford Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and identify projects for implementation, starting in 2020 and finalizing in 2021.


Montbello Bicycle Course

The Montbello Bicycle Course was constructed in partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation to provide an outdoor hands-on bicycle skills course at the Montbello Recreation Center.  It was completed in 2020 and is available to be booked for events through Denver Parks and Recreation.


Westwood Travel Plan Study (2020)

The Westwood Travel Plan was conducted in the Westwood neighborhood and identified safety opportunities at three schools (Castro Elementary, Kepner Beacon Middle School, Pascual LeDoux Academy).  The study kicked off and was completed in 2020.


Smith Elementary Travel Plan Study (2020) 

The Smith Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and potentially implement, starting in 2019 and finalizing in 2020.


Cory Merrill Safe Routes to School (2019)

The Cory Merrill Safe Routes to School Project constructed new sidewalks and a new bicycle lane, rebuilt a traffic signal, and replaced a paint-and-post curb extension with a concrete, permanent curb extension.  The project area was along E Florida and Iowa Avenues.


Car Seats, Boosters and Safety Belts

Please contact us to learn more about engagement opportunities.

BASE and CPSCC: Who We Are

BASE and CPSCC: Booster and Safety Belt Education, and Child Passenger Safety Collaborative


Who We Are

Child Passenger Safety Collaboration of Colorado (CPSCC) is a joint effort between the City and County of Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure's Booster And Seatbelt Engagement Program (BASE) and HealthOne Swedish Medical Center Injury Prevention.

CPSCC is always looking to expand our reach and increase our partnership efforts.

What We Do

We keep Coloradoans safe in motor vehicles by providing tailored child passenger safety as well as adult passenger safety education, encouraging safe practices, and assisting underinvested communities in securing new car and booster seats.

We utilize our network and partnerships to increase our reach and ensure our abilities to serve families throughout the region with these crucial, life-saving education and resources.

Never add accessories that did not come with the car seat

A child playing with hanging accessories in his car seat

Never leave your child in the car alone, even for a short period of time

A child sleeping in her car seat

Only move to the next car seat when they outgrow the weight or height limit, not before

A smiling girl sitting in her car seat

Place coat or blanket over the child for warmth, wearing nothing thicker than a sweatshirt in their car seat

A baby sucking on a pacifier in his car seat

Outreach and Engagement History

2023

  • CPSCC engaged with 5,026 people over 69 events and gave away 309 car/booster seats
  • CPSCC gave out over 150 car/booster seats with education to over 400 adults over the course of two days at the Denver Zoo.

2022

  • BASE collaborated with Swedish HealthONE Injury Prevention and AAA Colorado to form the CPSCC (Child Passenger Safety Collaborative of Colorado)
  • CPSCC engaged 2,709 people over 34 events and gave away 204 car/booster seats

2021

  • BASE (Booster and Car Seat Engagement program) engaged 1,392 people over 16 events

Voucher Program

  • On hold pending new funding source, active years 2022, 2023
  • Provides purchase vouchers to families that receive Child Passenger Safety education from certified Technicians (CPSTs) across Colorado that require assistance in securing car/booster seats
  • 35 car/booster seats and education provided to CPSTs across Colorado to give families in need paired with education

Partners

Melanie Wuzzardo, Injury Prevention Coordinator with HealthONE Swedish Medical Center Melanie Wuzzardo
  • Injury Prevention Coordinator, HealthONE Swedish Medical Center
  • RN, BSN, CPST (She/Her)
  • Melanie has been a nurse for over 12 years with a background in neuro ICU, pediatric cardiac ICU, and care management. She has been a CPST for over three years. Her passion for injury prevention is multi-faceted. No matter what hat she is wearing at any given moment (nurse, parent, daughter, or community member), prevention is at the core of everything she does.
  • melanie.wuzzardo@healthonecares.com

Julia Bencze, DOTI Office of Community and Business Engagement Julia Bencze
  • CPST (She/Her)
  • Booster and Seatbelt Engagement Program Coordinator, Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), Office of Community and Business Engagement (OCBE)
  • Julia.Bencze@denvergov.org

Jody Davison, DOTI Office of Community and Business Engagement Jody Davison
  • PMP, CPST (She/Her)
  • Injury Prevention Program Manager, Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), Office of Community and Business Engagement (OCBE)
  • Jody is passionate about empowering families to acknowledge the inherent danger of driving, prompting smart and safe behavior change and critical thinking in transportation choices within our communities
  • Jody.Davison@denvergov.org

  • (Former) AAA supported programming for an unprecedented two years. Funding was allocated toward language interpretation and car/booster seat purchasing for families in need, greatly expanding our engagement reach and scale.

Why it Matters

Car crashes are among the top causes of death in children under 14. Parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of serious injuries and deaths by up to 80% by securing children appropriately into properly installed car seats. There is also an average of 38 deaths in hot cars per year. (NHTSA)

Many of these deaths are preventable, and frequently impact our community disproportionately.

The images below illustrate stark physical and socioeconomic barriers in the city today. The BASE program prioritizes people living in the 'inverted L' of Denver who are less likely to have access to this crucial knowledge and resources to keep their children safe.


Graphic of persons in Denver more likely to be displaced and less likely to be displaced

Graphic of persons in Denver with less education and more education

Graphic of persons in Denver less than 50% white and more than 50% white

Denverite

Engagement Opportunities

Volunteer

  • Host an event at my location
  • Volunteer for an event as an individual or group

Sponsor

  • Contribute funds or car/booster seats
  • Contribute storage space
  • Contribute volunteers

Partner

  • Participate as a CPST
  • Join the CPS Collaborative
    • Partner on events and outreach
    • Sponsor engagement, materials, or car/booster seats
    • Work alongside the team regularly

Request Support

  • Child passenger safety seat fit education-only (Fit Station)
    • For an individual (2 families or less)
    • For a group (3+ families)
    • Offered as a standalone or in partnership with other events
  • Child passenger safety education with a complimentary car or booster seat (limited availability)
    • For an individual (2 families or less)
    • For a group (3+ families)
    • Offered as a standalone or in partnership with other events
  • Education Session
    • Virtual or in-person session
    • Customizable to any/all: car seat, booster seat, adult passengers, pregnancy seat belt
    • Includes an adult vehicle display seat for hands-on installation practice
    • Offered as a standalone or in partnership with other events
  • Materials request - brochures and flyers, stickers, etc.
    • Materials only
    • Child Passenger Safety Technician event tabling with materials

Laws and Best Practice

Make sure you're keeping them safe for the whole journey:


Laws and Best Practice

  • Best Practice keeps children as safe as possible by extending each fit stage to the maximum allowable, as each stage offers less protection than the one before it.
  • Colorado Law states the bare minimum necessary for legal compliance.

Best Practice (RECOMMENDED)

The most current, evidence-based, SAFEST recommendations set by the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing child safety restraint as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their child safety restraint's manufacturer.
  • All children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their child safety restraint should use a forward-facing child safety restraint with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their child safety restraint's manufacturer.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their child safety restraint should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection, typically between 10 and 12 years of age.
  • All children less than thirteen years in age should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection

Colorado Law (BARE MINIMUM)

To avoid a ticket, fine or citation:

  • Children less than 1 year AND weighing less than 20 pounds must be properly secured in a rear-facing child restraint system in a rear seat of the vehicle
  • Children 1 year to 4 years, and weighing 20 to 40 pounds must be properly secured in a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint system
  • Children up to 8 years must be properly secured in a child restraint system, such as a booster seat, according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • Children 8 years to 15 years must be properly restrained in a safety belt or child restraint system according to manufacturer's instructions

Colorado Law as Stated

  1. Unless exempted pursuant to subsection (3) of this section and except as otherwise provided in subparagraphs (II) and (III) of this paragraph (a), every child who is under eight years of age and who is being transported in this state in a motor vehicle or in a vehicle operated by a child care center, shall be properly restrained in a child restraint system, according to the manufacturer's instructions. (2) (a) (I) Unless exempted pursuant to subsection (3) of this section and except as otherwise provided in subparagraphs (II) and (III) of this paragraph (a), every child who is under eight years of age and who is being transported in this state in a motor vehicle or in a vehicle operated by a child care center, shall be properly restrained in a child restraint system, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. If the child is less than one year of age and weighs less than 20 pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system in the rear seat of the vehicle.
  3. If the child is one year of age or older, but less than four years of age, and weighs less than 40 pounds, but at least 20 pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint system.

B. Unless excepted pursuant to subsection (3) of this section, every child who is at least eight years of age but less than 16 years of age who is being transported in this state in a motor vehicle or in a vehicle operated by a child care center, shall be properly restrained in a safety belt or child restraint system according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Passenger and Driver Information

Pregnancy

Wearing a seatbelt is the best way for all adults to stay safe in a car, and wearing it properly during pregnancy is the best way to protect the both of you. To make sure that you and your little one arrive safely, always:

  • Place the lap belt portion across the top of your thighs and hip bones, NOT over your belly
  • Place the shoulder belt between your breasts and to the side of your belly
  • Tilt the steering wheel up and away from your belly
  • Sit back as far as you comfortably can from the steering wheel

Learn more at these helpful sites:


See Statistics

Average Motor Vehicle Crash (MVC) Facilities 2006-2021 by Age
  • A child is at 17 times more risk of becoming a traffic fatality before they are born than when they are in a car seat
  • Proper seat belt use can reduce adverse fetal outcomes by 84%
  • 25% of pregnant drivers wear their seat belt correctly
  • Only 20% of pregnant drivers receive in-person education about how to wear their seat belt correctly
  • In-person seat belt education makes a driver four times more likely to wear their seat belt correctly

Rear Facing

All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat's manufacturer.


Why It Matters

The vertebrae of young children are not developed enough to protect the spinal cord during a crash. When forward facing, in a frontal collision, the weight of the head combined with the immature skeleton, can cause the spinal cord to stretch up to 2 inches, while serious injury can occur at just 1/4 of an inch stretch. This often results in internal decapitation and causes paralysis or death.

When rear facing, in a frontal crash, the car seat decelerates the child's body by spreading the crash forces over the back of the seat, where there is greatest surface area to absorb the forces. When forward facing, the forces are concentrated over the harness to hard points (shoulder and pelvis) of the skeletal structure.

Examples of Cervical Vertebrae, Thoracic Vertebrae and Lumbar Vertebrae

Top view and side view of development of human vertebrae, ages birth to adult

Correct Fit

  1. The crotch buckle is as close to the child as possible without them sitting on it
  2. The hip straps are snug on the hips
  3. The straps between the crotch buckle and chest clip are flat and straight
  4. The chest clip is at their armpit level
  5. You cannot pinch slack at the shoulders
  6. The should straps wrap behind the child's shoulders like a backpack, not sitting above the shoulder

What about their legs?

Legs are actually safer in a rear facing position. Children are very flexible and it is not uncomfortable for them to sit with bent legs. We actually see more injuries forward facing because their legs can hit the seat in front of them.

Young girl smiling in her car seat

Young boy sitting in his car seat

Correct Install

  1. Attach with the seat belt OR the lower anchors, not both (exception: Nuna Pipa), ensuring that the seat belt (if used) follows the correct path
  2. Refer to the line, bubble, or ball on the seat label for guidance to ensure the seat is leveled correctly
  3. Confirm the seat moves less than 1 inch from side to side, front to back when applying pressure to the belt path that connects the seat to the car.
Graphic of correct car seat installation

Go to a car seat fit station to have it checked:

Forward Facing

Convertible car seats can be used rear facing or forward facing.

Combination car seats can be used rear facing, forward facing, or as a booster seat.

Most models of convertible and combination car seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds and some up to 70-90 pounds when used forward facing. These seats do not have detachable bases, users must switch the seat between vehicles or have one for each vehicle. All children who have outgrown their rear-facing weight or height limit should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.


Correct Fit

  1. The crotch buckle is as close to the child as possible without them sitting on it
  2. The hip straps are snug on the hips
  3. The straps between the crotch buckle and chest clip are flat and straight
  4. The chest clip is at their armpit level
  5. You cannot pinch slack at the shoulders
  6. The shoulder straps go above their shoulders, towards their ears, not wrapping behind their shoulders like a backpack

Correct Install

  1. Attach with the seat belt OR the lower anchors, not both ensuring that the seat belt (if used) follows the correct path. Ensure you are using the correct installation method (most lower anchors have a weight limit)
  2. Refer to the line, bubble, or ball on the seat label for guidance to ensure the seat is leveled correctly
  3. Confirm the seat moves less than 1 inch from side to side, front to back when applying pressure to the belt path that connects the seat to the car
Go to a car seat fit station to have it checked:

Attach car seat with seat belt or lower anchors, not both

Car Seat Parts Illustrated

Smiling child sitting in a car seat

Booster Seat

Traditional seat belts are properly sized to protect adults in the event of an impact. Children often slouch or scoot forward because their knees don't reach the edge of the seat to bend properly, pushing the lap belt up on their belly and increasing their risk of injury. Additionally, children's bones and muscles aren't typically developed enough to withstand a crash in a safety belt alone. So, once your child has outgrown a seat with harnesses, it's time to move to a belt-positioning booster seat.



Backless Booster Seats are booster seats that do not have a back on them, they're only what the child sits on. These are great for older children.

Example of a backless booster seat

 

High-back Booster Seats are booster seats that have a back on them (often detachable). These are great for children just coming out of a forward facing 5-point harness or for children with lower tone.

Example of a high back booster seat

Correct Fit

  1. Their bum is all the way back in the seat
  2. The hip straps are snug on the hips, but not up on the stomach
  3. The strap across the torso is flat and straight
  4. There is less than 1 inch of slack at the shoulder
  5. The shoulder strap goes above their shoulder, towards their ear, not wrapping behind their shoulder like a backpack
  6. The shoulder strap is across the collarbone, not up on their neck
  7. The shoulder AND lap belt are under the "arm" of the booster seat

Child clicking his seat belt while sitting in a high back booster seat.

Tips for a good backless booster seat belt fit

Graphic of a good and bad seat belt fits with high back booster seat

Correct Install

  1. Always install in the back seat. All children under age 13 should ride in the back seat whenever possible.
  2. Ensure the booster seat is facing forward
  3. Ensure there is a lap and shoulder belt to use

Adult Seat Belt

Traditional seat belts are made to fit adults. To maximize your protection, place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck, never behind you or under an arm. The lap belt portion goes low and snug across your hips, not your stomach. Your pelvis and rib cage are better able to withstand a crash than other parts of your body.

The thing that our kids need most to be safe and thrive is US, and we model safe behavior by wearing seat belts correctly every trip. Every time.

Children are fit for an adult seat belt without a booster when they meet ALL of these:

  • Their knees bend comfortably at the vehicle seat edge with their feet flat on the floor
  • Their back lies flat against the vehicle seat (bum all the way back in the seat)
  • The shoulder belt lies between their neck and shoulder
  • Their lap belt lies across the top of their thighs
  • They can remain comfortably seated upright for the duration of all trips

Correct Fit

Graphic of five step test for when a child can ride safely without a booster seat

Graphic of proper seat belt fit for adults and children

Five step test for when a child is ready to move to an adult seat belt

Cold Weather

A heavy jacket or coat requires the seat belt to be loosened slightly so that it no longer conforms to the body. No coats or snow suits for anyone in a seat belt or 5-point harness.

More winter car seat safety

A German study finds damage at speeds as little as 10 MPH when wearing heavy coats

Children who unbuckle themselves and other tips

Houdini button-down shirt trick

For children who unbuckle the seat belt, these devices might help:

Shop - BuckleBoss.com
Amazon.com - Buckle Guard


For more tips and tricks, please visit:

The Car Seat Lady: Houdini Button Down Shirt Trick
CDOT - Car Seats Colorado

3 out of 4 kids are improperly secured in their car or booster seat