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Insurance Institute on The Best Child Booster Seats

Posted on September 21, 2010

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is reviewing the best child booster seats for the third time and finds consumer choices are increasing. Consumer Affairs reports that booster seats are used on four to eight year olds who outgrow child car seats, but who are still too small to be securely held safely by a seat belt, which is engineered for the adult body.

In all, researchers looked at 72 booster seats based on how well they fit the existing seat belt in the vehicle. A belt too high could cause a child to harm his neck in a Florida car accident. A shoulder belt that is uncomfortable often ends up behind the child where it does absolutely no good.

A good booster seat will route the lap belt across the upper thighs of the child and the shoulder belt at mid shoulder. A crash test does not give any information about how well the booster seat performs, so crash tests were not conducted. This is the first time that the number of Best Bet or Good Bet booster seats outnumbered the poor performers.

“Now more than ever manufacturers are paying attention to belt fit, and it’s showing up in our ratings,” said Anne McCartt, the Institute senior vice president for research. Last year only nine of the 60 seats evaluated earned a Best Bet nod.

Thirty-six of the booster seats however fell in the middle range because they don’t consistently fit well in a variety of cars, including SUVs and minivans. What should parents look for in assessing a Best Bet? The Institute says a bad fit is when a lap belt rides up on the stomach and the shoulder belt rubs against a child’s neck or falls off the shoulder.

Consumer Affairs has a list of Best Bets, Good Bets and those not recommended.