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Child Booster Seats Are Safer Than Ever

Child booster seats are safer than ever. In fact, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IHS) recently issued a report awarding 15 of the 17 booster seats introduced in 2012 with its top rating of BEST BET. While manufacturers crash test boosters, these simulations don't provide information on how a booster will fit a specific child in a specific vehicle and federal regulations currently do not stipulate how a booster should position safety belts. Accordingly, IHS launched its ratings program to provide information to parents and consumers after research showed most boosters were not adequately fitting safety belts correctly and consistently in a variety of vehicles.

Boosters, which are designed to improve the fit of adult safety belts around children, come in two main styles: highback and backless. Highback booster seats have guides to route lap and shoulder belts and offer some head support. Backless booster seats have lap belt guides but may need a plastic clip to properly position shoulder belts. Some highback boosters can be converted to backless seats.

With the latest improvements in booster seat safety, the IHS reports that BEST BET boosters now outnumber seats in any of the three other categories for the first time since the IHS first began releasing booster ratings in 2008.

The HIS issued a total of 47 BEST BET boosters for 2012, which includes the latest models, as well as older top-rated designs that are still on the market. The IHS also awarded five booster seats as GOOD BETS, which means that they provide acceptable belt fit in most vehicles.

IHS listed 37 boosters in the Check Fit category, meaning that they may provide good fit for some children in some vehicles, but not as many as a BEST BET or GOOD BET. IHS recommends that parents make sure that the lap belt lies flat across their child's upper thighs and that the shoulder belt crosses snugly over the middle of the shoulder. If not, a different seat may provide a better fit.

Two booster seats are not recommended by IHS: Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite, both made by Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. Consumers are advised to avoid these boosters because they don't provide proper belt fit.

Booster seats that provide belt-positioning support are important for protecting children who have outgrown harness-equipped car seats, but aren't yet big enough for adult belts. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 who use boosters are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes than children who are restrained by adult shoulder and lap belts alone.

According to the IHS, children using improperly fitted seatbelts are at risk for sustaining a variety of injuries in car accidents known as "seat belt syndrome," including spine injuries and internal organ injuries. Boosters can help prevent "seat belt syndrome" by elevating a child into position and guiding the belts for better protection.

Consumers can read the full list of BEST BET and GOOD BET boosters here:

Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

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