IIHS says more booster seats are a 'Best Bet'
Insurance industry research group releases ratings for new models and finds that boosters have improved overall.
Most parents won't test nearly every booster seat on the market, which are designed to keep children between 4 and 8 years old safe in a crash. That's what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does, and in its latest tests, the nonprofit organization revealed that 15 out of 17 new booster seats introduced in 2012 have earned its "Best Bet" top rating.
The IIHS also noted that this year's high marks indicate that booster seats have improved across the board. For the first time since the IIHS began rating boosters in 2008, the number of Best Bets now outnumbers seats in its other other three categories: Good Bet, Check Fit and Not Recommended.
A bumper crop of 47 booster seats made the IIHS Best Bet list for 2012, including new models and older designs that are still on the market. Five seats received the Good Bet rating, the next rung down, which means they provide acceptable belt fit in most vehicles. Thirty-seven fell into the Check Fit category, which means they may provide good fit in some vehicles, but are not as safe and snug as those in the top two categories.
Only two seats landed in the Not Recommended category -- the Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite, both made by Dorel -- since they don't provide proper belt fit and are older designs first evaluated by IIHS in 2009. The group evaluates new models each year, while ratings for boosters that are carried over into the next model year remain on the list until they’re discontinued. The latest ratings cover 91 boosters and are all ranked on the IIHS website.
The IIHS points out that federal regulations don't address how seatbelts should be positioned to fit a booster. And while automakers conduct crash test using boosters, the IIHS says the simulations don't tell parents how boosters will fit their children in their vehicles. The IIHS launched its booster-seat ratings after research found that most booster seats weren't doing a good job of fitting safety belts correctly and consistently in a variety of vehicles.
The IIHS doesn’t conduct crash tests as part of its booster evaluations. Instead, its ratings focus on seatbelt fit. IIHS engineers use a test dummy representing an average-size 6-year-old child to gauge belt fit, and they measure how lap and shoulder belts fit the dummy in each booster under four conditions that represent the range of belt configurations in actual vehicles.
"Booster manufacturers have risen to the institute's challenge to improve seat design, giving parents more choices than ever when shopping for a booster that will provide a good, safe fit for their children," said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research, in a news release.
The video below provides more information on the IIHS booster-seat testing and on proper seat fitting.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.