According to a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study (CHOP, 2003), belt-positioning booster seats are 59 percent more effective in decreasing the potential for injury in comparison with vehicle belts only.
Booster seats raise and position a child so the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt fit properly across the strongest parts of their body – essentially protecting little ones who are too small for a seat belt yet too large for a harnessed car seat. By keeping the lap and shoulder belt in proper position, this prevents potential abdominal injury caused by the lap belt and provides upper body protection. We recommend using a booster as long as possible. Children should only be transitioned from a booster to vehicle seat belts when they have outgrown the height/weight limits of their booster and meet the following recommendations:
- First, check state laws regarding the transition from a belt-positioning booster to vehicle seat belt. As laws vary from state to state, we have included a helpful link to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) website to help locate this information for your region:
- Child is tall enough to sit without slouching.
- Child can keep his/her feet flat on the floor
- Child is able to keep his/her back against the vehicle seat.
- Child’s knees bend naturally over the edge of the vehicle seat.
- Lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs (NOT the stomach) while the shoulder belt must lie snugly across the shoulder/chest (NOT the neck/face).
- Child must be able to stay in seat/position for the entire length of car ride.
- Child should not place the shoulder belt behind their back/under their arm. This can cause severe injuries. If they cannot sit with the seat belt properly in place or the vehicle belt doesn’t fit them properly, they should continue to use a booster seat.