The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released some new research examining the effectiveness of child seats in regard to injury prevention. The study focused primarily on the effectiveness of child booster seats. While seatbelt use in the United States is at an all time high, unfortunately that does not necessarily translate into “proper usage.” This is especially true in regard to small children. The IIHS report provides strong evidence that belt-positioning booster seats, coupled with lap/shoulder seatbelts, offer the safest way for children to travel in cars after they outgrow their child safety seats.
There has been much research and debate over the “forgotten child.” This phenomena involves children, usually between ages four and eight, who have outgrown child safety seats but are not yet large enough to properly fit in standard lap/shoulder seatbelt systems. The IIHS research provides evidence of a significant benefit from the use of belt positioning booster seats which allow for a better fit for small children in lap/shoulder seatbelts.
The IIHS research examined data from the National Automotive Sampling System – Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) and the Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) child crash surveillance system. The analysis focused on the potential risk of “moderate or greater” injury among crash-involved booster-aged children. Of the 219 children riding in a belt-positioning booster seat with lap/shoulder belts, only 14 sustained moderate or greater injuries. Analysis of the PCPS data revealed that only .68% of children with lap/shoulder belts with belt-positioning booster seats in rear rows suffered moderate or greater injuries. The data revealed that the risk of injury among children in belt-positioning booster seats with lap/shoulder belts was reduced by 57% compared with children using lap belts alone. The key take away from the study is that a lap-belt-only position is not optimal for booster-aged children due to the lack of torso restraint.
This study shows that the risk of injury for small children can be reduced significantly by the proper selection and use of child restraint devices. The IIHS has an excellent video resource for parents, schools, churches and other civic organizations. The video “Keeping Children Safe in Crashes” can be purchased on DVD from the IIHS website. Additionally, the video is available for viewing on the website which also has instructions and photographs on the proper selection and installation of child seat devices. This information can be viewed at www.iihs.org/research/topics/child_restraints. If you need any additional information you can contact J.P. Sawyer, one of the lawyers in our firm who handles product liability cases, at 800-898-2034 or JP.Sawyer@beasleyallen.com.
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