Most parents are readily aware of the need for car seats for their infants and toddlers. Unfortunately, many parents are either unaware of or ignore recommendations that call for booster seats for older children. In fact, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children age six to fourteen with children ages five to fifteen properly restrained only 68.7 percent of the time. Additionally, over 47 percent of fatally injured children ages four to seven were completely unrestrained.
NHTSA has made several important recommendations for children aged five to fifteen. Every child between 40 lbs. to 80 lbs. and less than 4’9” tall should be restrained in a booster seat. Children fitting these descriptions are usually ages four to eight. In addition to those guidelines, any child who cannot sit with their back flat against the seat and their knees bent over the seat edge should use a booster seat. Make sure to use both a lap belt and a shoulder belt when securing your child in his booster seat. Never put the shoulder belt behind the child’s arm or back. Instead of helping the child feel more comfortable, this improper use of restraint can cause severe injury in a crash. Use only an approved booster seat that is secured to your vehicle following the manufacturer’s specifications. And lastly, never place a child in any type of safety or booster seat in the front seat of your vehicle if it is equipped with an air bag. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that, at any age, your children are as safe as possible when traveling with you.