Most New Booster Seats Get High Ratings | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Children between the ages of 4 and 8 are 45% less likely to sustain injuries in passenger car crashes if they are in booster seats than if they use seat belts alone, but deaths among that age group rose in recent years.

However, there is good news. Nearly all the new child booster seats in a recent evaluation did a good job providing proper belt fit for children, which can help protect them in a crash.

Those are the highlights of new safety ratings announced on Wednesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit financed by the insurance industry.

“Booster seats are simple, low-tech devices that don’t have to cost a lot to be effective,” Jessica Jermakian, the Insurance Institute’s vice president of vehicle research, said in a statement. “All a booster needs to do is raise the child up a bit and guide the seat belt so it is positioned correctly. The lap belt should lie flat on the upper thighs and not up against the tummy, and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the middle of the shoulder.”

The Insurance Institute said it began its booster rating program in 2008 after finding that many seats didn’t consistently provide good lap and shoulder belt fit and there were no requirements in place to govern booster belt fit.

Initially, only a quarter of those assessed earned the highest designation. Currently, most models tested met that standard. The recent evaluations found that 47 of 54 booster seats introduced last year earned the safety group’s highest rating for their ability to provide a seat belt fit.

Vehicle seat belts are designed for adults, but boosters, geared for children who have outgrown harness-equipped car seats, are essential safety equipment. Researchers stressed that age-and size-appropriate restraints are “the best way parents and caregivers can maximize their children’s safety in vehicles.”

After testing, booster seats were organized into four categories.

Nearly all of them earned the Institute’s highest rating of BEST BET, which means a booster provides good lap and shoulder belt fit for typical 4- to 8-year-olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV.

One earned a GOOD BET designation for providing acceptable belt fit in most vehicles.

Six were rated Check Fit for varied results, depending on child size and vehicle model, and none earned the lowest rating of Not Recommended for not providing good belt fit and should be avoided, researchers said. Currently, there are no booster seats on the market with this designation.

(Some models were rated twice because they can be used either in highback or backless mode.)

Children should ride in boosters until a vehicle seat belt fits correctly by itself, and for some kids, that doesn’t happen until about age 12. But choosing an appropriate booster that is a good fit for your child is only the first step, researchers said. “Using it on every trip is the next. Many parents stop using boosters for their children too early. Others don’t use them all the time because they’re inconvenient to carry along for taxi or ride-hailing trips, for example, and can make it crowded for three kids in the back seat.”

Access to obtaining good quality boosters remains an issue for many families, researchers said, but added that some rated as BEST BETs start as low as about $25, and several options are available for less than $40.

For more information about the analysis and to view the specific models rated, click here.


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