New Study Indicates Current Focus on Booster Seat Safety Is Insufficient
Although most parents recognize the importance of securing babies in car seats, a recent study suggests that vehicle safety involving children between the ages of 4 and 8 does not receive the same attention from parents or safety inspectors. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional injury for children over the age of one year old. Children who outgrow child safety restraints are supposed to graduate to booster seats because lap and shoulder harnesses are designed for adult sized passengers.
Booster seats re-position young children between the ages of four and eight, so a seat belt fits their bodies properly. These vehicle safety devices, which represent a transition phase between car seats and seat belts, have been shown to decrease the risk of serious injury in children aged four to eight by nearly half (45 percent). According to a recent study published in the Journal of Trauma, kids who are booster-seat aged face double the prospect of suffering injury in a car crash when compared to younger children.
The researchers suggest that parents might have a false sense of security about booster seats because they seem simpler and less sophisticated than a car seat in terms of installation. The simplicity of the devices might cause parents to worry less about correct installation and the fit of booster seats. Parents also tend to have less understanding about the need for booster seats than car seats that are used for infants. Evidence of parents' more limited knowledge about booster seats is provided by a recent Safe Kids Worldwide survey. Seventy percent of parents who participated in the poll were unaware that the optimal seat belt fit for children does not develop until a child reaches 57 inches. Further, ninety percent of parents transitioned their children to regular seat belts prematurely.
Although the authors of the study contend that safety inspections could alleviate the problem, most inspections currently focus on car seats for younger children, according to the researchers. The study, which also included an analysis of car seat and booster seat checks, found that less than ten percent of the inspections covered booster seat aged children. The researchers analyzed 4,531 car seat inspections conducted by Safe Kids. The results showed children over the age of four usually had a sibling having a car seat inspected, and parents had no plan to have the older child's booster seats inspected.
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