Children tend to be very eager to grow up and do the same things as their older siblings or parents. But sitting in a car or any motor vehicle is one specific case where children should never be allowed to get ahead of their actual growth.
The leading cause of death for children between ages 1-14 is from road traffic accidents and crashes. Skipping booster seats and going straight into using passenger seat belts can cause serious problems because regular seat belts are specifically made to fit an adult body. They are not designed to safely fit the body of a child. However, using a booster seat will allow a child’s body to be positioned correctly, because a booster seat raises the height of a child and enables the seat belt to be situated appropriately across their hips and chest. A child on a booster seat will ensure the most protection possible from any crash.
A handy guide to determine if a child needs a booster seat is by using this five-step test. If your answer is “No” to any of these questions, your child needs to be seated on a proper booster seat:
- Is your child at least 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) tall?
- Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat of your vehicle when their back is fully against the seat back?
- Does the lap portion of the seat belt stay low on the hips or upper thighs, not cutting across the stomach?
- Does the shoulder portion of the seat belt fit tightly across the chest and shoulder, not cutting into the neck or face?
- Can your child stay seated comfortably in your vehicle’s seat like this for the entire trip without slouching or putting the seat belt behind their back?