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.