According to Partners for Child Passenger Safety, more than 90% of 4 to 8-year-old children who were seriously injured in a crash were not restrained in a booster seat. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study shows that between 40% and 50% of 4 to 8 year old children in fatal crashes are totally unrestrained.
Seat belts alone are designed to fit the average adult and not small children. Therefore children at this age are not ready to use just a seat belt alone. Fact is, you could be putting a child at high risk for severe injuries and/or death if you transition them to a seat belt alone too soon. Booster seats are designed to lift children from the vehicle seat in order for the seat belt to fit properly. Children that are under 57 inches in height should be riding in a booster seat.
Once a child has exceeded the weight limit for their internal harness or exceeded the height for their car seat, they may now be ready to transition to a high back or no back booster seat. If your vehicle comes equipped with headrests, you may use either type of seat. If your vehicle does not have headrests, you will want to use a high back booster seat. Point being, your child needs some type of restraint for their head; the top of a high back booster or a built in headrest in the vehicle.
When your child is ready to transition to the booster seat stage, it is important that the child can wear the seat belt correctly and not slouch in their seat for the entire ride. Also, a booster seat must be used with a lap/shoulder belt. A booster seat is not designed and/or allowed to be used with a lap only seat belt. The lap portion of the seat belt should lay flat across the hips. The shoulder portion of the seat belt should fit snug across the collar bone. Do not allow your child for any reason to place the shoulder portion of their seat belt behind their back or under their arm.
- This article was provided by Safety Seat Services.