Most New Booster Seats Meet the Grade
There is some very good news on the car booster seat front. Out of the 17 new booster seats tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently, 15 of the seats are rated as “Best Bets” by this insurance group. That is a sharp improvement over previous years when very few models made this important category.
The IIHS has tested numerous seats through the years and for 2012 there are 47 booster seats that make its “Best Bet” categorization, including 15 new ones. Best Bet booster seats are those that allow for the correct positioning of seat belts for the typical child ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8 years-old.
Five seats were rated at a Good Bet, which means that they provide an acceptable fit in at least some vehicles. Some 37 booster seats have been labeled as Check Fit, which means that they may provide a good fit for some children, but are below the level of Best Best and Good Bet categories.
Regardless of the booster seat, parents and caretakers should always ensure that the lap let lies flat across their child’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt should cross snuggly over the middle of the shoulder. Barring that, a different booster seat should be tried out.
Just two booster seats fall within the IIHS’s “Not Recommended” category. Both are made by the Dorel Juvenile Group and have been identified as the Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite booster seats. Both are older designs that were evaluated first in 2009. The IIHS has called on Dorel to redesign these booster seats to comply with its safety standards.
The IIHS is funded by the nation’s auto insurance companies. No federal laws are on the books to regulate booster seats and the position of safety belts, leaving it up to the industry to test these models and make the proper assessments. Insurance data reveals that children ages 4 to 8 that ride in a car in a proper booster seat are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries than children that are simply buckled in.
No crash tests are employed as part of the institute’s evaluations. Some car manufacturers state that a booster seat does help out, but the Institute does not evaluate these claims. Instead, the IIHS uses a test dummy that represents the size of an average 6-year-old child and puts the dummy into a booster seat in a variety of production vehicles. From there, the IIHS determines which booster seats do the job and which ones fall outside of its Best Best rating.