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Are Booster Seats Safe?

A report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHS) indicates half of car booster seats on the market today create a safety hazard for children.

USA Today recently ran an article noting that booster seats made for children who have outgrown traditional car seats often do not fit properly with standard seat belts. During a recent study, IHS tested 83 car booster seats and found that 41 missed the mark on consistently fitting adult-size seat belts. That is a bit concerning as the purpose of a booster seat is to elevate small children between the ages of 4 and 8 to a level that allows a seat belt to lay over the shoulder and across the lap, providing more protection in car accidents.

The IHS report rated 36 of the booster seats tested as "best" or "good" choices for consumers. Booster seats reportedly reduce the risk of injury to children in a crash by 45 percent when compared to youngsters relying on seat belts alone for protection.

But if a child uses a booster seat that is not secured properly to the seat belt in the vehicle, severe injuries can occur in a crash. Harm to the child can reportedly be sustained from both the seat belt cutting into the body and the child being tossed from the booster seat and then thrown around the vehicle when the restraint is not secure.

Six booster seats received the poorest ratings and IHS officials reportedly urged consumers to refrain from purchasing these models. The substandard booster seat models include the Safety 1st All-In-One and Omega Lite, as well as the Evenflo Sightseer, Express, Generations 65 and Chase. Booster seats manufactured by Harmony Juvenile Products received the highest rating, as did the inflatable BubbleBum.

Source: USA Today, "Car-safety group: half of child booster seats pose risks," Jayne O'Donnell, October 13, 2011.

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