Children in states where there are booster seat laws are less likely to die in car accidents, according to a recent study. The finding applies particularly to six and seven-year-old children, according to researchers.
Most states require booster seats for children who have outgrown traditional car seats. However, age requirements for using booster seats vary. Many do not require booster seats for older children, and Florida and South Dakota do not mandate booster seats at all.
A booster seat raises a child up so that the car’s seatbelt can be properly positioned across the shoulders.
The study showed that booster seat laws significantly reduced the number of child deaths, especially when the laws required the use of the seats until the child was six or seven. The reduction in fatalities was most significant among six and seven-year-old children.
Between 1999 and 2009, states with booster seat laws were 11 percent less likely to see child traffic deaths compared to states without such laws. When the law included six and seven year olds, the risk of death dropped even further.
One of the senior researchers in the study, Dr. Lois K. Lee of Children’s Hospital Boston, said that parents often mistakenly believe that once a child starts school – even preschool or kindergarten – he or she does not need a booster seat. But the reality is that older children actually benefit more.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that children should ride in car seats until they are four or have outgrown the seat, and should use booster seat until they are at least four feet nine inches in height. Dr. Lee said that states should consider adjusting their laws to match the AAP recommendations.
New York law requires child safety restraint until the child’s eighth birthday. The device can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat, but not the vehicle’s seat belt alone. The law exempts older children who are taller than four feet nine inches; they must use the vehicle’s seat belt.
Source: Reuters, “After car booster seat laws, child deaths fell,” by Amy Norton, Nov. 6, 2012.