The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS for short, recently released their annual ratings for car booster seats. Booster seats are meant to raise your child higher in the car to improve the position and angle of the seatbelt so that your child can fit the seatbelt properly, and they are designed for children who have outgrown harness-equipped restraints.
Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old, or until they have reached the weight and height limits of their car seat. Once they are two years old or, regardless of age, have outgrown their rear-facing car seat, children should sit in a forward-facing car seat – most with weight limits of 65 to 80 pounds. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it is time for them to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
This year, 20 of 23 new booster seat models evaluated by the IIHS earned the highest rating of BEST BET, which means that they are likely to provide good seatbelt fit for a 4- to 8-year-old child in almost any car, minivan, or SUV. Additionally, three models were rated GOOD BETs, meaning they provide acceptable fit in most vehicles. There were no new models in either the “Not Recommended” or “Check Fit” categories, the latter of which designates seats that may or may not work for some children in some vehicles.
According to the IIHS, children ages 4-8 are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in car accidents if they are in booster seats than if they are only wearing a seatbelt. Booster seats are an important bridge until children are large enough for vehicle safety belts to fit by themselves, which may not be until age 12 for some children.