Anyone who has small children riding with them in a vehicle on a regular basis should be concerned with booster seat safety. After all, it is these booster seats that help to secure our kids in a car so that they will not be hurt should the driver be involved in a crash.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does regular studies to determine what booster seats are best in restraining kids who are age 4 to 8 safely in a car. The most recent study has found that booster seats now offered in the market are better than they used to be at fitting lap and shoulder belts already in the car around children. However, the study also found that not all belt-positioning boosters consistently fit well in all vehicles.
IIHS studied the safety belt fit of 72 booster seats and assigned the best to two categories -- the top rated seats were categorized as Best Bet or Good Bet. These seats properly positioned vehicle safety belts in most vehicles on kids who sit in them.
IIHS noted that it is not the booster seat itself that restrains the child. It is the belt already in the vehicle that does that. However, it is imperative that the belt fit properly around the booster seat so that the child is properly restrained. According to the Institute, a good booster seat routes the lap belt across a child's upper thighs and positions the shoulder belt at mid-shoulder.
Of the 72 booster seats studied, 21 boosters were considered by the Institute as Best Bet models and seven were put into the Good Bet category. Eight of the booster seats were not recommended for use. Thirty six of the booster seats were assigned in the middle category because they did not consistently fit belts properly over most kids in most vehicles. Most of these models are backless boosters that feature good lap belt restraint but did not have proper shoulder belt restraint.
Concerned parents can visit the IIHS website to see which booster seats fall into what category.