Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States for children over the age of one, killing 1,500 children under 5 years of age and injuring approximately 70,000 in 1980. The most effective preventive strategy for this problem is the proper and consistent use of child auto restraints. However, this behavior is practiced by less than 10% of parents. Even with educational efforts, loaner programs, and legislated mandates, the majority of children ride unprotected. The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of health education principles to the problem of childhood motor vehicle-related morbidity and mortality. This paper illustrates the use of the PRECEDE model for planning, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive child restraint education and loaner program in Maryland. The educational diagnosis was based on a review of the child restraint-related literature as well as on an analysis of Maryland accident and safety data. The design and development of educational programs and materials to increase the proper and consistent use of car safety seats is described. In addition, program evaluation activities are outlined which will provide documentation of changes in car seat usage rates and trends in childhood morbidity and mortality from motor vehicle accidents in Maryland.