The booster seat message is a crucial one; The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 90% of children in the U.S. who should be using a booster seat are not.
Children prematurely moved to seat belts are 4 times more likely to suffer serious head injuries during a collision than children in child safety or booster seats. Safety belts are designed for adults, and children under 4'9" tall should ride with a booster seat. Despite the risks, national statistics show that 4 out of every 5 kids between the ages of 4 and 8 are not riding in a car booster seat.
NHTSA awarded a contract in Fall 2001 whose objective was to obtain a measure of the current level of CRS misuse among the general public. The study convened a group of experts to identify “critical” misuses, defined as forms of misuse that could reasonably be expected to raise the risk of injury to a child in the event of a crash. The critical misuses composed the overall misuse measure for the study.
The critical misuse measures were:
- Age and weight appropriateness of the booster seat;
- Direction of seat;
- Placement of seat in relation to air bags;
- Installation and secureness of seat to the vehicle seat (tight safety belt);
- Secureness/tightness of harness straps and crotch strap of the seat
- Use of locking clip for certain vehicle safety belts
- Fit of vehicle safety belt across child in belt-positioning booster seat
- Defective or broken car seat elements.
72.6% of 3,442 observed booster seats displayed one or more critical misuses.
Facts On Booster Seat Misuse
- Higher safety belt misuse (e.g., twisted belts, improper fit) on booster seats when the children indicated that they had buckled themselves
- Multiple instances of observed misuse when older siblings were responsible for buckling younger children into booster seats in the back seats of vehicles
- Nonuse of restraints by children going to football practice with equipment on their bodies (i.e., shoulder ads, helmets);
A greater likelihood of children being unrestrained the farther away they were seated from the driver;
Information compiled from www.nhtsa.dot.gov .
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