Department Of Child Safety Resources
Find out how to keep your child safe in and around your vehicle. We offer prevention tips and information about vehicle features to avoid rollaway, backover, heatstroke, and other dangers to children.
BTSI was gradually added to new cars until it was finally required in all vehicles by Model Year 2010. As a result, this type of vehicle rollaway, while possible, is increasingly uncommon. However, vehicle rollaway can still be a problem in vehicles equipped with a keyless ignition or push-button start feature when the vehicle has been turned off and not shifted into park. This is why it is essential to always engage your emergency brake every time you park, regardless of the presence (or lack of) BTSI technology.
Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. If you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it may not be long before they are playing in it. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly—resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.
This can happen if you do not properly restrain your child, for example, if you let the child lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat instead of being properly restrained. Older children who are no longer in a car seat can become entangled by pulling a seat belt all the way out of the retractor or by playing with an unused seat belt.
The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. This feature is designed for car seat installation. In instances when the locking feature activates, the child may not be able to free him or herself.
Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a vehicle coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over an unattended child because the driver did not see him or her.
When ongoing intervention with a child or young person and their family involves placing the child or young person away from their parents' care, our department is required to ensure that the child is assured a safe and acceptable standard of care.
Keeping children safe extends beyond car seats. By providing educational information to parents and caregivers, and through our different prevention campaigns, NHTSA works to prevent the injury and death of children in and around vehicles.
In the span of 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees, enough to kill a child left alone in a vehicle. Children are at a higher risk than adults of dying from heatstroke in a hot vehicle, especially when they are too young to alert others for help.
Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI) is a system that requires the service brake to be depressed before the transmission can be shifted out of “park.” Before the introduction of BTSI, it was possible to shift vehicles with automatic transmissions "out of park." Unfortunately, this safety risk could occur even if the vehicle's engine was off or in accessory mode, the driver's foot was not on the brake, and the key was in the ignition. This often led to vehicle rollaway, particularly with unsupervised children playing in vehicles.