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Booster seats a bigger boon for older children

Study recommends that 6- and 7-year-olds should be legally required to use booster seats.

By Claire_Martin Nov 8, 2012 10:52AM
Booster seats may prove to be a bigger benefit to older children who aren't required to use them, according to a new study based on statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that states with stringent booster-seat laws recorded fewer child deaths, with the "strongest association" occurring among children ages 6 to 7.

Once children outgrow car seats, boosters enable them to sit high enough to use seatbelts correctly. Yet many states don't require kids 6 and up to use booster seats -- and South Dakota and Florida don't mandate them for children of any age, even those as young as 4.

"Parents think they’re dong the right thing by taking their kids out of a car seats at age 4 or 5, but they’re actually putting them at greater risk for bodily injury," John Paul, public safety manager for AAA Southern New England, told MSN Autos. "They’re in fact potentially causing more harm by, in essence, following the rules."

The dangers stem from the fact that seatbelts are designed to work against strong bone structure, specifically the collar bone and pelvis. The booster seats position small people to take advantage of this protection. Without them, seatbelts cut across their necks and bellies, making older children more vulnerable to injury.

The authors of the new study recommend changes to the current legislation. "Future legislative efforts should extend current laws to children aged 6 to 7 years," they wrote.

Luckily, the quality of booster seats is on the rise. As we reported last week, 47 seats made it onto the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Best Bet list for 2012. In March, a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its recommendations for car seats, AAA found that only one in three parents had followed the advice.

In the meantime, Paul said the rule of thumb for considering a booster seat is a child's size.

"Regardless of the law, kids under 4-foot-9 or under 80 pounds should probably be in a booster," Paul said.
 
[Source: Reuters; Photo credit: AAA]

1Comment
Nov 8, 2012 1:39PM
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To all the parents here, has anyone noticed that a modern forward facing toddler seat is basically a full fledged racing seat with a 5 point harness done in miniature?
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