National Child Passenger Safety Week has just wrapped up, and the theme was booster seats – a critical issue given that an estimated 73% of kids who need a booster seat to ride safely are not riding in boosters.With this in mind, Autobytel has enlisted one of America’s foremost child car safety experts, Alisa Baer, to help you make the right choices about this critical, but often poorly understood, child passenger safety phase.
Did you know that a child’s weight is largely irrelevant when considering whether he or she needs a booster seat? Just how confident are you that your booster seat is being used properly? When it comes to booster seats, a lot of well-meaning parents know less than they think. If you have a child between 3-10 years old – or if you ever drive with one –make sure you’re doing everything you can to “boost” your child’s odds of safety and survival in a crash. Fact is, 4-to 8-year-old kids are much safer riding in a booster. A 2003 study found that 4-8 year olds riding in boosters are 59% less likely to be seriously injured in a crash than those wearing safety belts alone. That same study found that none of the 4- to 8-year-olds who were in belt-positioning booster seats had any injuries to the abdomen, neck, spine, or back. Yet, such injuries did occur in children who used safety belts alone. Seventy-three percent of kids who need a booster seat to ride safely are NOT in boosters. Most kids between the ages of 4-8 should be riding in boosters. Yet while 78% of 4-year-olds use booster seats, the number drops to 65% of 5-year-olds, 43% of 6-year-olds, 21% of 7-year-olds, and only 11% of 8-year-olds. The result? The motor vehicle occupant death rate for 5- to 9-year-olds has changed little in the past decade – while deaths among other (younger) child age groups have greatly declined. 63% of the kids who died were unrestrained, while most of the remaining 37% were inappropriately restrained using safety belts instead of boosters.
Tip 1 - install
Tip 2 - travel
• 95.5% occur on a route the driver is familiar with
• 49% occur at or near an intersection
• 60% occur within 10 minutes of home, and 90% within 30 minutes of home
• 75% occur on roads with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less
Tip 3 - how boosters work
Tip 4 - five step test
The 5-Step Test
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, the child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right and to keep them safest.
copyright, SafetyBeltSafe USA
Tip 5 - laws
Tip 6 - comfort
Tip 7 - shopping
Tip 8 - restraint
Tip 9 – head injuries
Tip 10 – abdominal injuries
Photos courtesy of NHTSA, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors
Illustrations copyright Michelle Iglesias, ShelleBelle