If you’re a parent or caregiver, then you know that when you get into your car there is no more precious cargo than your children. That’s why following safety recommendations about car seat use and proper child restraints in vehicles is so important. It is also why shopping for that perfect car seat or booster seat can be so frustrating. Like so many other parents, I’ve been there. With two young children still in safety seats, I can relate to the confusion over trying to select the best car seat for your child when there are countless options on the market, all of them claiming some safety advantage.
That’s why it is so important for parents to have access to information about which seats actually perform better than others like this research on booster seats from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some of the news coming out of the testing done by IIHS is pretty sobering: Half of the booster seats on the market today don’t always provide a proper fit with safety belts. And the IIHS recommends avoiding six popular booster seats altogether.
The main problem that the testing highlights is that not all booster seats ensure a proper fit for seat belt use, which is the main purpose of using a booster seat. With the use of a seat, the seat belt should lay flat across a child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt should cross snugly over the middle of the shoulder. Of course, with children of all shapes and sizes, it is nearly impossible to design a one-size-fits-all booster seat. Some seats definitely perform better than others, which the IIHS classifies as “best bets”. To see all the ratings, visit the IIHS site.
At the end of the day, when parents and caregivers put a child in the seat and pull the seatbelt around them, they need to check every single time to make sure the fit is correct. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that a full 80 percent of child restraints are used incorrectly. We as consumers can do a lot to improve that statistic. Many Highway Patrol offices offer free seat checks if you want to make sure. The IIHS website also has guidance. As hectic as it can sometimes be to get those little ones strapped, it’s worth the extra minutes to make sure it’s done right.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.