In a recent survey of more than 650 parents, nearly one-fourth of respondents with children between the ages of four and eight admitted that they do not use a booster seat or other age-appropriate child safety seat. In addition, many of the parents who do use booster seats for their older children only do so because it is required by state law.
These results display a disturbing disconnect in parents’ knowledge about the appropriate use of child safety seats for children of all ages. This can easily lead to injuries to children. According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14.
The NHTSA also recently found that the proper use of child safety seats lowers the risk of car accident death by more than 70 percent for infants and 50 percent for toddlers. Although there are no specific statistics on older children, it follows logic that appropriate booster seats, which elevate children and makes adult safety belts more effective, significantly reduce the risk of injury and fatality.
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that children use a booster seat from the time they outgrow their forward-facing car seat until they reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches tall. For most children, this happens between the ages of 8 and 12. And while many parents follow the recommendation in their own vehicles, they are less likely to place their child in a booster seat if they are riding in another parent’s vehicle in a carpooling program or otherwise.
According to pediatrician Michelle Macy, it is essential that children are properly restrained in all vehicles. “Parents need to understand the importance of using a booster seat for every child who does not fit properly in an adult seat belt on every trip,” she said.