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National Survey on the Use of Booster Seats


The National Survey on the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS) is an observational survey of the use of booster seats among children being conveyed by passenger vehicle to gas stations, fast food restaurants, day care centers, or recreation centers. Although, by necessity, survey data are obtained from a restricted set of site types, the sampling methodology is designed so that its results are representative of children who frequent these types of sites.

Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Data Years Available: 
Mode of Collection: 
Observational study by trained collectors combined with in-person interviews.
Selected Content: 
Restraint type, seating position, vehicle type, weather, demographic characteristics of occupants up to age 12.
Population Covered: 

NSUBS obtains its data by sending trained data collectors to a probability sample of gas stations, day care centers, recreation centers, and restaurants in five national fast food chains across the U. S. Data collectors approach passenger vehicles appearing to have child occupants under the age of 13, observe the restraint use of up to nine occupants in the first three rows of seats, and conduct interviews to obtain the race and ethnicity of all occupants and the heights, weights, and ages of child occupants appearing to be under age 13. (The approximate ages of other occupants (expressed as an age range, such as 16–24 years), and the genders of all occupants, are subjectively assessed by the data collectors.) In order to capture restraint usage before children unfasten the restraints, restraint use is observed by the data collectors prior to or just as the vehicle comes to a stop, except in the case of observation at fast food drive-through lanes, where restraint use is observed prior to the vehicle reaching the drive-through window.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

The 2006 survey is based on the observation of 10,000 occupants, 5,300 of whom were under age 13, in 3,500 vehicles at 28 day care centers, 107 fast food restaurants, 205 gas stations, and 43 recreation centers, nationwide.

Interpretation Issues: 

Glasbrenner, D and Ye, J. Booster Seat Use in 2006. Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration., 2007. Available at: