The latest NHTSA findings speak for themselves. They point to the glaring fact that as parents, we all have to do a better job to ensure the security and safety of all kids who are passengers in any vehicle we drive.

In 2011, (the most recent year with available data) almost two children under the age of 13 were killed and 338 were injured every day while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups and vans. Of the children killed, the percentage of unrestrained fatalities, with no car seat or seat belt, varied with greater percentages of unrestrained fatalities occurring in larger vehicles: SUVs (55 percent), pick-ups (43 percent), vans (40 percent), and cars (24 percent).

Shame on us. When will we learn?

There is no time, ever, when any adult or child in a moving vehicle should not be wearing a safety belt, or secured in the appropriate car seat.

And that means even when we're 'just making a 5-minute trip to the local grocery store', everybody has to be buckled in. We can't be selective about when we'll let them ride without a safety belt or being secured in the proper child seat. We must lead by example and make sure everyone buckles up. Every time.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says: "Parents and caregivers can be the first line of defense by ensuring their children are correctly secured in the right seat for their size and age, and by buckling up themselves."

"Regardless of the size of the vehicle, the age of the child or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained in a car seat, booster or seat belt," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers."

From 1975 through 2011, NHTSA estimates that approximately 10,000 lives were saved by child restraints for children under the age of 5 in passenger vehicles, with more than 260 lives saved in 2011 alone.

Additional information on child passenger safety can be found in NHTSA's latest issue of
SAFETY 1N NUM3ERS, an online monthly newsletter on hot topics in auto safety – including problem identification, people at risk and recommended practices and solutions to mitigate injury and death on our nation's roadways.