The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report of 60 booster seats on December 22nd, rating nine seats at “best bets” and six as “good bets.” The study aimed at taking the guesswork out of selecting boosters most likely to provide good lap and shoulder belt fit in a range of vehicles. Eleven of the 60 seats tested are not recommended by the IIHS “because they do such a poor job of fitting the belt.” The Institute notes that fit is important because safety belts are designed with adults in mind, not children. According to the organization, the belt should lay flat across a child’s upper thighs and position the shoulder belt at mid-shoulder. The Institute released its first booster ratings in 2008, evaluating 41 seats. Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research, observed:
Parents can’t tell a good booster from a bad one just by comparing design features and price. What really matters is if the booster you’re considering correctly positions the safety belt on your four- to eight-year-old in your vehicle. Our ratings make it easier to pick a safer booster for kids who have outgrown child restraints.
The new ratings cover almost all models sold in the United States right now. Manufacturers provided seat model numbers, and the Institute conducted its own check of retail inventories before purchasing seats. The IIHS’ best and good bets include several choices starting at about $20 and ranging up to $250 or more. Big box retailers stock most of them in stores and online, and the rest can be found at specialty baby-gear sellers.
The IIHS’ best-rated boosters are:
“The nine best bets should provide good lap and shoulder belt fit for typical four- to eight-year-olds in almost any car, minivan, or SUV,” according to Ms. McCartt. She explained that “a best bet that provides good belt fit in Mom’s minivan should work equally well in Dad’s sedan.”
The IIHS’ good bets include:
The following were not recommended boosters by the Institute:
The IIHS noted that more than half of the not-recommended boosters are 3-in-1s that leave the lap belt too high on the abdomen and the shoulder belt too far out on the shoulder. Another seat, the Harmony Secure, has armrests that push the lap belt away from the hips, way out on a child’s thighs. Shoulder belt fit is the main problem for the rest of the seats. According to the new report, Dorel Juvenile Group makes seven of the boosters that aren’t recommended, selling under the names Cosco, Dorel, Eddie Bauer, Maxi-Cosi, and Safety 1st.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
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