Giving kids a safer ride home

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s commitment to children’s health and well-being includes an investment in programs that are keeping kids safe at home and on the road. At community events, in the hospital’s patient care units and through the Tom Sargent Safety Center, Doernbecher is helping parents learn how to protect their children from preventable injuries. 

Benjamin Hoffman, M.D., director of the safety center, is a nationally recognized expert on car seat safety. He is motivated by a troubling statistic: Motor vehicle accidents are by far the leading cause of death of children 14 years old and younger. 

“Car seats can significantly reduce the risk of death and injury to kids, but as any parent will tell you, there are a lot of barriers to using them correctly,” he said. 

There are a tremendous variety of seat types on the market, and while there have been a number of innovations, they remain more complicated to use than they should be. Four out of five seats are not installed correctly, rendering them less effective in the event of a crash. 

Dr. Hoffman and his staff have developed a program that provides easy access to car seat expertise, giving parents and caregivers information and hands-on help installing seats properly for their children. 

Safety Center staff also provide consultation and assistance to families hospitalized in Doernbecher inpatient units, and are often able to help families in need access car safety seats. The program also serves those with specialized transportation requirements, such as premature infants and children with orthopedic or developmental needs, to ensure a safe ride home from the hospital.

Safe Ride from the First Ride


This year, the Safety Center completed the "Safe Ride from the First Ride" research project. The study enrolled more than 250 families, and examined how new parents used their child's car seat. All participating families worked with car seat experts to learn how to install and use their seats correctly. Data analysis is currently ongoing, and the results will be used to help families insure their newborns travel home as safely as possible. 

Through the Kohl's Cares for Kids Car Seat Outreach Project, hundreds of families received new seats at events held at Kohl's stores throughout the metro area. Overall, technicians inspected 2,143 car seats at community events and at the Kohl's-sponsored fitting station at Doernbecher. 

The Tom Sargent Safety Center, located in Doernbecher's lobby, offers low-cost supplies and free information to help your child or grandchild celebrate a long lifetime of birthdays. Learn more at the Tom Sargent Safety Center