Understanding Vehicle Safety and Booster Seat Ratings

Long after a child has grown too big for their baby car seat many child experts say they should still be restrained in the back seat of a car in a booster seat. Research has shown that children involved in an automobile crash are 45% less likely to be injured if they are in a properly fitting booster seat rather than just using the adult safety belt on its own.

In some states there are even now laws that mandate booster seat use for children under 4 feet tall and up to a certain weight. That is why it is important that when purchasing a booster seat parents learn a little about child booster seat ratings and the pros and cons associated with them.

What are Booster Seat Ratings?

The booster seats rating system is prepared by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). These booster ratings are designed to compare the various booster seats that are on the market and determine just how safe they are for regular use. It is important to note that the IIHS rating report is only used for measuring seat belt fit in booster car seats. These are not crash tests and the actual structural stability of the seat is never an issue.

Instead, the IIHS places child size crash test dummies into various models of booster seats and tests whether or not the seatbelt system meets a certain set of safety criteria. The booster seat ratings are then made according to how well each seat performs in these tests.

These are of course very important statistics. Since any booster seat has to be able to be used with a car’s own seatbelt there are bound to be some variations. And every parent wants to make sure that they are buying the safest booster seat they can.

Problems with Booster Seat Ratings

There are though certain ways these tests fall a little short. There are different seat belt systems in different cars. The IIHS does perform its tests on several different car models but it would be impossible to test them in every make of vehicle that is on the road. Some booster seats are simply going to work better in some cars than others.

Another problem with booster seat requirements is that there is really no such thing as an “average 6 year old”. You six year old’s height, weight and body shape may be very different from that of the crash test dummy.

Therefore although booster seat reviews and ratings are a useful starting guide to ensure booster seat safety parents should go a step further and actually have their own child sit in a booster seat before they buy it to see how it actually fits their unique body.

That may of course make shopping for a booster seat a little more difficult but the extra effort will be worth it to make sure that you are purchasing the best possible booster seat for use in the vehicle, or vehicle, you drive.

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