Car Seat Program


The Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law was amended in April 2008 and as of July 10, 2008 requires children to ride as passengers motor vehicles in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall. The expanded law will require a booster seat/safety belt combination for children who have outgrown a child safety seat - typically when they are above age five or 40 pounds - until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall.

The Massachusetts Safety Belt Law requires safety belt use by those 13 years of age and older.

A police officer checking installation of a car seat

As a part of the Urban Public Safety Coalition, we offer trained firefighter and police technicians to inspect car seats by appointment, or as a part of a planned Car Seat Checkpoint. We also offer table set-ups for health fairs, stores and other events. We provide workshops and demonstrations, for parents to learn how to properly install various size seats. Child safety seats, when correctly used, are 71% effective in reducing the risk of deaths for infants and toddlers in a crash. Massachusetts law requires all children to ride in a federally approved child seat, or restraint until they are 12 years old. You can be pulled over by the police and fined for every child not in a proper seat.

Your childs Safety seat can be checked by appointment, or by visiting a local checkpoint event:

  • Urban Public Safety Coalition
    61 Columbia Rd 11A Torrey St
    Dorchester, MA 02121 Dorchester, MA 02124
    617-436-6868 617-436-0019
    By Appointment, or checkpoint event
  • Boston Safe Kids Coalition 
    Boston Public Health Commission
    1010 Massachusetts Avenue, 2nd Floor
    Boston, MA 02118
    (617) 534-2635
  • Boston EMS 
    767 Albany Street
    Boston, MA 02118
    Phone: (617) 343-2367
    Fax: (617) 343-1199
  • Boston Police Department 
    135 Dudley Street
    Roxbury, MA 02119
    Phone: (617) 343-4278
    Lena Julien
    Appointments every Friday
  • Boston Public Health Commission 
    Boston Emergency Medical Services
    2 Theodore Glenn Way
    Boston, MA
    Every Wednesday from 11am - 3pm by appointment only
    Call (617) 534-2635 to schedule an appointment
  • Milton Police Department 
    40 Highland Street
    Milton, MA 02186
    Located in Norfolk county
    Phone: (617) 696-5013
  • Cambridge Police Department 
    5 Western Ave
    Cambridge, MA 02142
    Phone: (617) 349-4365

In Massachusetts, motor vehicle crashes are one of the number one causes of death and acquired disabilities in children above the age of one each year. According to recent Safe Kids data, over the years through ongoing prevention initiatives Boston has been able to reduce the number of deaths caused to children in passenger vehicles, but not the rate of injuries. Over 1500 children between the ages of 4-8 visit the emergency room each year in Boston for crash related injuries.

What is a leading challenge and solution? More than any other demographic factor, a parent's level of education seems to have the biggest impact on whether or not they use age- and size-appropriate child restraints to protect their children in a crash. Children whose parents have a high school education or less put their children at highest risk of serious injury or death in a crash, because these children are 27 percent more likely to be inappropriately restrained compared with those whose parents have attended some college. Parents with a high school education or less are among the least likely to use appropriate child restraints (Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention).

Independent of educational level, research has found that African Americans, Latinos, children with parents older than 35, and families with an income of $20,000 or less were also more likely to use inappropriate child restraints (Children Hospital). Individually, each of these risk factors increases a child's likelihood of being inappropriately restrained by about 25 percent. Public education campaigns aimed at increasing car seat use that is specifically tailored to families at highest risk for crash injury need to continue. Free car seats provided for families that need themStrategies for improved educational efforts, including the need for separate educational tactics for parents who don't restrain their children at all, and for those who are incorrectly using seat belts need to be a core focus. Additionally, educational efforts need to take into account the parents' attitudes toward health, cultural, language factors, and children's resistance to being in a seat. Legislation and law enforcement can also play a role in convincing parents of the necessity of child restraints; and once a law is passed, educational campaigns should refer to the new law (Childrens Hospital). Because poverty is an important factor, increased availability of low-cost, or free child restraints and booster seats for low-income families should be continued, if not expanded.

The Urban Public Safety Coalition estimates that approximately 85% of the car seats (425 seats) that have been checked in the past two years by coalition members, have been consistently misused or incorrectly installed, by the parents that have stopped at the checkpoints that we have participated in. (A figure that is in line with the National Safe Kids data of 90%). Many of the parents that we have assisted at our checkpoints, or individual appointments, tend to come from the low-income, minority and bilingual neighborhoods of Boston. The misuse we have observed most often seem to be due to the lack of appropriate information, training, inability to read or understand the instructions that came with the seats and language barriers. Additionally, many families could not afford to purchase new car seats, or purchased used seats from second hand stores, have pulled seats out of the trash, or were not aware that car-seats come with an expiration date. Some seats were more than ten years old, had parts missing, or were not the right size for the child. Some parents understood that there were problems with their childs seat, but cited they did not know where to go for help.

While lack of parental effort/education does account for some of misuse, it is more likely another area of concern is probably related to the complicated process of properly restraining children. Not all models of car seats fit all models of motor vehicles and many belt systems are incompatible with child restraints. There are up to 100,000 possible combinations of car styles, car seats, and seat belts and that is why trained technicians in the local communities are needed more now than ever!


The Urban Public Safety Coalition (UPC), is comprised of three core organizations: The Massachusetts Minority State Police Officers Association (MMSPOA) established in 1992, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO) formed in 1968, and the Boston Society of Vulcans, Firefighters Association (VULCANS) formed in 1969. In April of 2006, the organizations united in collaboration and formed the Urban Public Safety Coalition (UPSC), to serve as a tool to expand their resources, and as a means to bring forward initiatives in the area of safety and injury prevention to high risk, low income and bilingual communities. The associate organization JADE, has joined as a partner for 2008, to assist with outreach to the Asian populations in the city.

The coalition focuses on four specific areas of safety/prevention: Motor vehicle/car-seat safety, fire prevention, violence prevention and CPR/First aid training. As police officers and firefighters we see first hand the devastation caused by preventable deaths and injuries to young children from fire, violence, lack of basic safety skills, motor vehicles and improperly restrained children. We also see the impact of cultural and language barriers that can keep a family from understanding, or being able to access resources available to them, because they cannot communicate their needs. The collaboration has enabled the four organizations to open communications to several major bilingual populations in the city, because of their diverse memberships. Combined, the organizations have expanded their capacity to reach out to families that speak: Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese and Vietnamese.


February 2018

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