As the father of two small children, I use child car seats daily, and I often think, usually as I am hurriedly buckling up one of them, about how important it is to properly select, install, and use such devices. I recently came across some research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which I found enlightening and helpful to all parents, grandparents, and others who may transport our most precious cargo.
The 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. 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.
The IIHS examined in particular the use of child safety devices for children between the ages of about four and eight, who typically 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 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. Thus, according to the IIHS study, 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 titled “Keeping Children Safe in Crashes” which can be viewed and purchased on the IIHS website. The video has instructions and photographs on the proper selection, installation, and use of child seat devices. The information can be viewed at www.iihs.org/research/topics/child_restraints.
Here locally in the Gadsden, Alabama area the Gadsden Fire Department is presenting a free child car seat check on June 18, 2009, where you can have your child safety seats checked for proper installation. In Gadsden, call 256-549-4566 or visit www.gadsdentimes.com for more information.