FAQs : Car Seats - Boosters
- How should I adjust the seat belt on my child riding in a booster seat?
- Boosters elevate children so that safety belts designed for adults will fit correctly. Booster seats must only be used with both vehicle lap and shoulder belts. Never allow your child to place the shoulder belt behind her back or under her arm. A snug belt should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an unnatural position.
The lap belt should fit flat across a child's upper thighs (not across the soft abdomen, which is more likely to be injured in a crash than bony structures like the pelvis). The shoulder belt should cross snugly over the chest and the middle of a child's shoulder. This positions the vehicle seat belt to be effective in a crash and make the child more comfortable.
- How will I know when my child no longer needs a booster seat?
- Children are ready for seat belts alone when they can:
- Sit with their back and hips against the vehicle seat back and sit without slouching
- Bend their knees easily over the front edge of the seat
- The lap portion of the seat belt stays low and snug across the upper thighs
- The shoulder portion of the seat belt stays snugly across the mid-chest and shoulder
- Can maintain this position for the entire ride
- Is a booster seat really necessary? My child is six years old. Aren’t seat belts sufficient?
- Vehicle seat belts are designed to fit adults. Boosters elevate children so that safety belts designed for adults will fit correctly. The lap belt should fit flat across a child's upper thighs (not across the soft abdomen, which is more likely to be injured in a crash than bony structures like the pelvis). The shoulder belt should cross snugly over the chest and the middle of a child's shoulder. This positions the vehicle seat belt to be effective in a crash and make the child more comfortable.
Research shows that booster seats reduce the risk of injury 45% better than seat belts alone, for children between the ages of 4 and 8 (Effectiveness of Belt Positioning Booster Seats: An Updated Assessment, Pediatrics 2009). They also reduce the risk of death by 28% compared to restraining children with vehicle seat belts (Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats vs Seat Belts in Reducing Risk for Death in Children in Passenger Vehicle Crashes, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2006).
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crash injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for children, beginning at age 4. State law requirements vary for using car seats and boosters, but experts agree that booster seats should be used until seat belts fit correctly. Seat belts fit if a child can sit all the way back with knees bent naturally over the seat edge. The lap belt must stay snug on the leg or hip bones, with the shoulder belt against the chest and shoulder.
- It seems many states have recently adopted much stricter booster seat laws than previously on record. Why?
- Although each state has specific guidelines on car safety for children (see the Booster Seat Laws Map for a state-by-state listing), experts agree that children should ride in a car seat or booster seat until they are at least 57" tall and 80lbs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and disability for children age 4 to 8 - a startling statistic that is compelling communities across the country to adopt no-nonsense policies around child safety on the road.
- My child is not yet 4 years old or 40 lbs. What car seat should I use?
- Children should remain in a harness system as long as possible. Use your child's car seat until applicable height and weight limits are reached to take full advantage of the internal harness system it provides. Some seats now have internal harness systems that accommodate children up to 65 lbs.
- My child has outgrown his booster seat. Is it safe for him to ride in the front seat?
- Any child under 13 years old should sit in a back seat and should always be properly buckled up. Be sure anyone with whom your child is riding is aware of this rule. Research shows that children in the front seat are at 40% greater risk of injury, compared with children in the rear (Effects of Seating Position and Appropriate Restraint Use on the Risk of Injury to Children in Motor Vehicle Crashes, Pediatrics 2005). Children are shown to be safer in an appropriate rear seat, whether a vehicle has conventional air bags, advanced air bags, or no air bags at all.
- What types of booster seats are there? And which one is best for my child?
- Booster seats come in several varieties - high back, backless, and harnessed. There are also "all-in-one" seats that can be used from five to 100 lbs.
High-back and backless belt-positioning boosters; "boost" the child, helping to properly position the vehicle''s lap/shoulder belt.
Harnessed boosters; use an internal harness restraint system to secure the child. As the child grows, the harness system can be removed - with the seat converting then to the belt-positioning mode.
All-in-one car seats: literally grow along with the child. They can be used in both rear- and forward-facing positions and later as a belt-positioning booster.
- How are the upper weight limits for booster seats determined?
- Dorel engineers test booster performance with all of the crash test dummies required by the Federal Government. Dorel also voluntarily tests them with a dummy that is the size of a 10-year-old child, a heavier 10-year-old child, and a small stature adult female. The fit of and performance with these dummies helps us identify weight and height limits for specific booster models.