Properly fitting restraints, booster seats curb injury risks for young passengers
Booster seats are a proven way to help keep young passengers safe in vehicles.
Children who are restrained in booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured during an accident than youngsters using seat belts alone.
But a report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has questioned whether certain booster seats provide children with a better fit than restraint devices.
"Kids come in all shapes and sizes and not all boosters will fit all children the same way," pointed out Christi Fisher, Safe Kids Utah coordinator and an educator with the Utah Department of Health's violence and injury prevention program.
"Parents and caregivers shouldn't panic about the results of this study. They should continue to use booster seats for their children on every ride," continued the health department educator.
All of the booster seats tested by the highway safety institute met the government standard in crash tests.
But booster seats are not designed to be one size fits-all, according to the state's public health and child safety experts.
The different variations in boosters allow parents to find the right fit for individual children.
"Safety belts are designed for adults and many children are too small to get a proper fit without using a booster seat," explained Janet Brooks, child advocate at Primary Children's Medical Center and vice president of Safe Kids Utah.
"Booster seats can save lives. And in Utah, it's the law for every child under the age of 8 or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall and less than 80 pounds to be restrained in a safety seat," noted kids safety program vice president.
According to the state's public health and traffic safety representatives, Carbon County parents and caregivers can follow four simple steps to make sure children's boosters fit the correct way.
Public health and highway safety officials encourage local adults to:
â¢Place children on the booster seats and fasten the lap and shoulder seat belts around the youngsters.
â¢Use the seat belt guides on the boosters for the lap and shoulder belts.
â¢Check to make certain that the lap belt rests on the top of the thighs or low on the hips of young passengers.
â¢Check to make certain that the shoulder belt is positioned on the shoulder, not the neck or face of the child.
People should never place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back of a young passenger.
If the shoulder belt and lap belt are on the children as recommended, the booster seats will work as designed to protect a youngsters in a traffic accident.
If not, local adults should try other brands until they find one that properly fits children.
"Fortunately, there are a lot of safe booster seats to choose from. It's not about buying the most expensive booster seat - it's about making sure you get the right fit for your child and car," said Fisher.
Carbon County parents and caregivers may obtain a free car seat inspection by contacting the Southeastern Utah Health District at 637-3671 or the Safe Kids coalition.