Joe Colella is Director of Child Passenger Safety for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). In this exclusive interview, he tells us about  the role JPMA plays in spreading awareness about car seat safety and how that awareness can be improved, by brands and retailers.

I am the Director of Child Passenger Safety for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and in that role I manage a committee of car seat manufacturers, importers, test labs and other stakeholders. A main purpose of that group is to identify common industry interests and messaging, and to communicate that information appropriately.


JPMA is the “voice of quality and safety” for our juvenile products industry, primarily in the United States and Canada. In addition to collaborating with other stakeholders toward safer product regulations, safer laws governing the use of car seats, and improved educational programming, JPMA directly provides resources and opportunities for families.


Our most active annual period for consumer-facing activity is Baby Safety Month (, which we initiated in 1983 and continue to observe each September. National Child Passenger Safety Week also occurs during September in the USA, and during that week we hold a car seat inspection event, promote additional educational opportunities involving car seat manufacturers, and disseminate car seat tips and other resources through broadcast and social media. Many of the related materials can be found at

According to the JPMA, when it comes to choosing and buying a car seat, what are the most important factors for parents to consider?

The most crucial factors in obtaining a car seat are that:

  • The car seat is appropriate for the child’s height, weight, age and development, per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • The model selected is compatible with and can be correctly attached to the vehicle(s) it will be used in
  • The caregiver is comfortable with the car seat’s features and will use the model correctly and consistently

Beyond those considerations, other factors may include safety and convenience enhancements, the family’s budget, and any lifestyle needs.

Is there enough awareness in general about car seat safety – and if not, how can that be improved?

Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of injury and death for children, and correctly used car seats and seat belts is a proven countermeasure. A phrase that I like to remember is that, “new parents are born every day” and need information. In that spirit, the need for ongoing educational messaging and resources remains. In addition, we must consider that safety regulations and “best practice” recommendations continue to evolve as study advances. Reflecting and explaining evidence-based improvements is important.


At this point, we must also consider that some messaging momentum for keeping families informed and updated was hindered during the COVID pandemic. Some educational programs and resources were modified or temporarily halted during that period, and new parents may not have had easy access to the information they provided.


Manufacturer instructions, labels and online resources are a crucial part of car seat education. Reinforcing correct use messaging can take many forms, including:


  • through mainstream media
  • important tips through social media
  • credible information from healthcare providers
  • programming through government agencies and credible NGOs in cooperation with law enforcement and first responder groups
  • in-person assistance provided by trained advocates through car seat inspection or fitting
How can brands and retailers make car seat purchasing easier?


Brands do far more than manufacture and sell car seats. The products are intended for specific purposes, designed for effective protection of children in defined height, weight and age ranges, and tested for those uses. The manufacturer instructions reflect using the products as intended.


A growing number of manufacturers supplement those instructions with information in different forms, including:

  • frequently asked questions that reinforce or supplement instructions
  • online videos demonstrating correct use of their car seats and specific features
  • reference or direct link to recommendations from credible sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • customer service assistance from well-trained agents taking new forms, including direct video interaction with the enquiring consumer, email and text (SMS) exchanges, in-person interaction at baby product shows or parent groups, and more


Retailers can play an important role by reinforcing the importance of choosing the right car seat for a child’s age and size to prevent or reduce injuries from motor vehicle crashes. Parents need to understand the risks of motor vehicle crashes and that correctly selected and used car seats and seat belts significantly reduce those risks.


Rather than creating original materials, a better approach is to promote resources from credible experts like car seat manufacturers, regulators and leading advocate organizations. Accuracy is crucial and the supporting science continues to expand. These dedicated resources provide consistent and current information, while original materials may not.


Training retail employees on the basics of child passenger safety and “best practice” recommendations is a good way to differentiate a retail organization. Training programs for that purpose continue to be developed in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere. At a minimum, retailers should never provide information that conflicts with manufacturer instructions or guidance.

The European R129 safety standards mean many car seats are now suitable from birth to 12 years. Is there a US equivalent?

FMVSS 213 regulates child restraint systems in the U.S. The regulation applies to any device except seat belts designed for use in a motor vehicle or aircraft to restrain, seat, or position children who weigh 36 kg (80 lb) or less.

How do US car seat safety standards differ from European standards?

Both standards are evidence-based, and their application provides for safe and protective child restraint products. The approaches toward that shared objective differ, however, and the specific requirements therefore vary significantly. The end result, however, is that child users are well-protected by car seats meeting either standard. It is important and required, however, that families in the U.S. only use car seats that comply with U.S. regulations and families in the E.U. only use those that meet European standards.


We’re seeing a rise in rearward facing car seats here in Europe; what’s the next innovation in car seats?

Extending the period that children can ride in each mode of restraint is also occurring in the U.S. Children are riding rearward facing longer, and car seats have rearward facing limits as high as 50 pounds. Most forward-facing car seats with internal harnesses can now be used to an upper limit of 65 pounds. Booster seats (cushions) typically have upper limits ranging from 100 to 120 pounds. The overall recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway traffic Safety Administration are for families to delay transitions between modes for as long as the height, weight and age requirements in the specific manufacturer instructions allow.


U.S. car seats will continue to evolve due to regulatory improvements and market demands. FMVSS 213a will be fully implemented in June 2025, requiring successful lateral impact testing of models designed for children weighing up to 40 pounds. FMVSS 213 overall requirements will also be updated and improved, though the specifics of those changes are not yet final. In addition to regulations, voluntary safety enhancements are being introduced by leading manufacturers.


We are also seeing more attention to consumer interests resulting in additional convenience features. Many of these features are designed to encourage the correct use of car seats and overcome known consumer errors. Other features reflect changing consumer needs, including increased car seat use in multiple vehicles and other lifestyle differences. Some models are even beginning to incorporate technology into car seat functions or instructions.


This is an exciting time for car seat development, and the beneficiaries will be children and their families!

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