A study out of the University of Michigan Health System uncovered that booster-aged seat children are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury in a car crash compared to younger children, mainly because their seats may be installed improperly.
The study took an interesting look at the age of children whose parents came to a certified car seat inspector to ensure their rear-facing, car seat or booster seat was installed properly. According to the data:
- Only 11 percent of all inspections were for booster seats, which are generally designed for children between the ages of 4 and 7.
- Children 4 or older were more likely to have a younger sibling, leading researchers to believe that some of the booster seat inspections may only have occurred because a parent wanted a small seat inspected, but they had the booster seat examined as well simply because they were already there.
- Half of the inspections were for rear-facing seats.
Senior author Dr. Michelle L. Macy said parents may believe they are experts at installing seats by the time a kid reaches booster seat age, but that’s not necessarily true.
“Booster seats seem less technical and complicated than installing an infant seat, which may lead parents and families to worry less about using them incorrectly,” said Dr. Macy. “Our study suggests it may be beneficial for certified child passenger safety technicians to focus more on providing education and guidance on prolonged use of booster seats.”
Booster Seat Statistics
Booster seats have been shown to reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent in children between the age of 4 and 8 compared to a seat belt alone, but that alleviated risk flies out the window if the booster seat isn’t installed properly.
Many parents believe their child has outgrown a booster seat, but that simply isn’t the case. A survey by Safe Kids Worldwide found that 7 out of 10 parents did not know that a child isn’t at optimal seat belt height until they reach 4′ 9”, and 9 out of 10 parents prematurely move their child out of a booster seat to a seat belt.
Oftentimes free child seat checks are offered throughout your community. Do a simple google search with your city’s name in the query and odds are you’ll find out that the fire station, police station or community center offers free seat inspections. Just five minutes can significantly reduce your child’s likelihood of injury in the event of a crash, so take the time to have it properly inspected.