- Nine out of ten parents move their children from booster seats to seatbelts before they are big enough, according to a new study from Safe Kids Worldwide.
- Of those surveyed, 71 percent were not aware that a child should be at least 57 inches (4-foot 9-inches) tall and weigh 80-100 pounds to ride without a booster seat.
- Safe Kids coalitions and GM dealerships will host more than 600 events in the U.S. throughout this week to ensure kids are fitted with the proper seat.
WASHINGTON — Nine out of ten parents move their children from booster seats to seatbelts before they are big enough, according to a new study from Safe Kids Worldwide.
Safe Kids coalitions and GM dealerships will host more than 600 events in the U.S. throughout this week to ensure kids are fitted with the proper seat.
The results indicate that 71 percent of those surveyed were not aware that a child should be at least 57 inches (4-foot 9-inches) tall and weigh 80-100 pounds to ride in a car using a seatbelt without a booster seat, and 90 percent admitted moving their children from booster seats to seatbelts before they had reached that size.
The survey also revealed that many parents bend the rules when driving carpools.
One in five respondents whose children carpool say they let the kids ride without booster seats. And 61 percent of those surveyed say they've noticed other carpool drivers neglecting the rules, as well. Of that group, 21 percent say they "rarely or never" talk to the carpool driver about the type of restraints being used.
"Although seatbelts are safer than nothing at all, children who should be in booster seats but wear only seatbelts are at risk of severe abdominal, head and spinal injuries in the event of a crash," the report states. "Booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seatbelts alone."
Age requirements for booster-seat use vary from state to state. Currently, 35 states have enacted laws mandating the use of booster seats for children up to the age of seven, or older. (Wyoming and Tennessee take the requirement to the age of eight.) The rest allow kids to move to seatbelts at younger ages, even as young as five.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2012 the crash fatality rate for children ages four to eight in the states with less strict laws was 13.7 per 100,000, while in states with stricter laws that rate dropped to 8.6 per 100,000.
The NHTSA's Parents Central Web site has a wealth of useful information for parents looking to maximize their children's safety when riding in vehicles. For children in the four-to-eight age group, NHTSA says booster seats lower the risk of injury in crashes by 59 percent, compared to the use of seatbelts alone.
Since September 14-20 has been declared Child Passenger Safety Week, this is a topic that is receiving a great deal of emphasis from government bodies, nonprofit organizations and corporate sponsors.
Said Jeffrey Boyer, General Motors vice president for safety and GM Foundation board member, in a statement: "All who share a commitment to protecting passengers should take pride in the progress that's been achieved. However, this report is an important reminder that there's more we can do to ensure that children are buckled up correctly on every ride, every time."
Edmunds says: Child Passenger Safety Week is a good time for parents to learn and begin observing booster seat guidelines. GM dealers and others are available to help.