Thirteen Booster Seats Receive Poor Safety RatingsOct 2, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP A recent review by the insurance industry found that a variety of children's car booster seats provide poor results in positioning children to fit in their seat belts. The researchers included the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—which conducts crash tests of new vehicles—and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The team found that of 41 booster seats tested, 13 boosters performed poorly. The Institute did not recommend: Compass B505, Compass B510, Cosco/Dorel Traveler, Evenflo Big Kid Confidence, Safety Angel Ride Ryte, Cosco/Dorel Alpha Omega, Cosco/Dorel (Eddie Bauer) Summit, Cosco Highback Booster, Dorel/Safety 1st (Eddie Bauer) Prospect, Evenflo Chase Comfort Touch, Evenflo Generations, Graco CarGo Zephyr, and Safety 1st/Dorel Intera. IIHS President Adrian Lund said the 13 named boosters “may increase restraint use by making children more comfortable, but they don’t position belts for optimal protection.” This review was the first the IIHS conducted for booster seats. Lund explained the Institute did not review crash protection since boosters only elevate children so lap and shoulder belts are well positioned to restrain the children in the event of a crash.
Meanwhile, child seat manufacturers said their seats meet and exceed federal regulations and Dorel Juvenile Group said it “welcomes the opportunity to review the evaluation conducted by the IIHS”; Graco Children’s Products said “safety is always a top priority and nothing is more important than the well-being of the children who use our products.”
Generally, booster seats are used by children between the ages of four and eight years of age with the seat belt positioned across a child’s lower hips and mid-shoulders and not the abdomen; the liver and spleen are more vulnerable to injuries in that position. The government recommends car seats for children up to 40 pounds and booster seats for children over 40 pounds until they are eight years of age or four feet, nine inches tall. All children should ride in the back seat of vehicles until they reach the age of13.
IIHS spokesman, Russ Rader, announced that two of the seats included in the group of 13 not recommended by the Institute—the Costco Highback Booster and the Safety 1st/Dorel Intera—had been discontinued. The IIHS evaluated seats that represented a majority of the market at the time evaluations were conducted, which was during the summer of 2007. Evaluations for all of the seats can be found on the Institute’s Website. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues ratings for child seats on its Website at http://www.safercar.gov/.
Dr. Kristy Arbogast, who researches child passenger safety issues at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said “The biggest disservice this would do is to encourage people to move out of booster seats because we know they’re an effective restraint, we know they reduce the risk of injury and the risk of fatality,” Arbogast said. Arbogast suggested that parents buying a new booster seat should try it out in their car and see how the seat belt fits on their child.