There is some good news to take from reports released yesterday on the safety effectiveness of booster seats. Primarily, they are getting safer than they used to be; however, there are still some seats that won’t do as good of a job protecting your child during a car accident.
The main purpose of booster seats is to help a child properly fit in a seatbelt. Since seatbelts are designed for adults, children are usually too short to for the lap portion of the belt to properly fit across the tops of the thighs and the top portion of the belt to fit across the mid-shoulder. Overall, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety evaluated 72 booster seats. According to the results of the evaluation, 21 booster seat models were recommended as “best bets” because safety belts fit well across most vehicles, while seven models were “good bets” and eight were not recommended. The eight models that failed the institute’s evaluations were Eddie Bauer’s Deluxe and Deluxe 3-in-1, Evenflo’s Express, Generation 65 and Sightseer, Safety 1st’s All-in-One and Alpha Omega Elite and Harmony’s Baby Armor. In comparison, “best bets” included Chicco’s Keyfit Strada and Graco’s TurboBooster Crawford, and five Harmony Juvenile Product booster seats. In addition, among the “good bets” were Combi’s Kobuk Air Thru, Britax’s Parkway SG and Maxi-Cosi’s Rodi. For the full list of evaluated booster seats visit the IIHS website report.
To gauge booster seat safety, the evaluators used a crash-test dummy to see if seatbelts properly fit, or if they hit a child too high on the stomach, too close to a child’s neck, or fell off the child’s shoulder. The evaluators also pointed out that parents cannot be certain that the mid-range performers of the booster seats will operate appropriately in every vehicle. Instead, they recommend choosing a booster seat from the “top performers” category. While top quality booster seats may seem like a hefty investment, nothing can replace a child.