Has your child outgrown their car seat? Booster seats “boost” kids up so that the car’s seatbelt is properly positioned across their body, offering better protection in the event of a car crash. Kids that have outgrown the child restraints of a car seat should use a booster seat until an adult belt fits correctly. Depending on their size, even children as old as 12 could still require a booster seat.
Now, not all booster seats are created equal. Some provide a better belt fit than others and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) offers guidelines to help determine the best fit for your child. Here’s how to determine which booster seat is best for your child and how to know when it’s safe to transition to an adult safety belt.
To check that a booster seat offers the right fit for your child, pay attention to the following when you buckle them up. When in their booster seat,
- The child’s shoulder belt should fit snugly across the center of their shoulder and not across their neck or face.
- Their lap belt should rest flat across their upper thighs, not on their tummy.
You’ll know they’re ready to transition away from a booster seat when an adult belt fits the same way.
The IIHS also publishes an annual evaluation of booster seats, rating them as “Best Bets,” “Good Bets,” and “Not recommended.” Their “Best Bets” are most likely to provide the good lap and shoulder belt fit detailed above. To see if your child’s booster seat made the cut, see the IIHS’s booster evaluations for 2014.
Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years when compared with seatbelt use alone, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They also recommend that a child be over 57 inches tall before they leave their booster seat behind. Car seats, booster seats, and belt buckles aren’t just for long road trips; buckle up even if you’re only going to the grocery store.
While your car may have all of the latest safety features, buckling up is the easiest way to help ensure your family’s safety in the car, and it shows your kids that you’re serious about safe driving. Safe drivers could be eligible for a safe driver discount on their insurance, and when paired with a discount for vehicle safety features, they could take advantage of low cost car insurance .
The benefits of safe driving go far beyond car insurance discounts though; safe driving saves lives, so double check that your child’s booster seat fits correctly and remember to buckle up no matter what!