Many parents only buy booster seats for their children because the it is the law. But the reality concerning booster seats is much more interesting and important and could save your child’s life.
One of the main reasons children need booster seats is to make sure that the straps are correctly placed. The lap belt in an adult lies across the bony pelvis but in a child can lie across the abdomen. This can cause severe soft tissue abdominal injuries as well as spinal trauma in the event of an accident.
The other reason children are at a disadvantage in high-velocity crashes is related to the shoulder sash or shoulder harness. Whereas in adults, it crosses safely over the shoulder on the collar bone, in children sitting lower in the seat, it crosses dangerously across the neck, threatening both the spine and vital vascular structures in the neck.
The booster seat exerts its main effect by simply elevating the youngster in the seat, so that both the lap belt and shoulder harness fit the child more like they do an adult. Studies have demonstrated that youngsters using booster seats and standard restraints are much safer than youngsters using the restraints without the booster.
Booster seats come in two forms – The most basic kind is a simple seat booster: the so-called backless booster seat. The other type is a seat bottom/back combination: the high-back booster. Most of these also have a back high enough to serve an additional important function as a head restraint. Most also have lateral head protection to prevent lateral flexion excursions in the even more unhappy event of a side-impact collision.
Already you can see that the latter is probably going to be better.
The next question is when is a child old enough to come out of a booster seat.
Rules of Thumb for Booster Usage
There are a few simple ways to determine whether the child should be using a booster seat. Children should ride in a booster seat until they are at least 57 inches tall. Once they have reached this height, if the child cannot sit all the way back against the vehicle’s seat back and bend the knees over the edge of the seat, he or she should remain in a booster. If the seat belt rides up over the abdomen or if the shoulder portion rides over the neck, the child needs to remain in a booster seat.
Look after your child’s life.