The leading cause of death for children age 2 to 14 is motor vehicle accidents. Every day in the United States, 5 children are killed in a car crash, and in 2008, more than 900 children died and 168,000 were injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, a large number of these deaths could have been prevented by the use of a child booster seat. Although most parents know to safely secure their young child in a child protection seat, fewer parents know that children should be secured in a booster seat once they outgrow their baby seats.
Booster seats are designed for older children who have outgrown their car safety seats, and yet are still small enough so that the seatbelt lap and shoulder harness does not fit properly. Booster seats are important because they lift a child up to a higher height and position the seatbelt to that it fits well over the child's lap and shoulder. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that all young children are properly restrained in booster seats that are appropriate for their age, weight and height once they outgrow their car seat until at least age four, although it is highly recommended that children continue to be secured in a booster set until they reach age 8 or grow to 49 "tall.
Not all parents know how to tell when their child has outgrown their car seat. A child has outgrown a car seat and should be secured instead in a booster seat when:
- The child's shoulders are positioned above the seat's top harness slots.
- The child reaches the highest weight or height recommended for the seat. The weight and height limits are posted on the seat as well as in the seat's instructions.
- The child's ears reach the top of the seat.
Parents who restrain their children in booster seats often use the seats incorrectly. Before using the booster seat, fully read the instructions to be sure that you have properly installed the seat and adequately secured your child. One study showed that more than 70% of all child restraint seats were used incorrectly, which highly increases the risk of child injury in the event of an accident.
The NHTSA also recommends that all children under age 12 should ride in the back seat rather than the passenger seat to decrease the risk of injury or suffocation from the deployment of an airbag during an accident. Positioning a child in the back seat reduces the chance of injury by 40% for all children under age 16.
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