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Booster seats’ crashworthiness improving

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Posted: 1 pm ET

Auto injuries are the leading cause of death among U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so good news this week for parents: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released safety test results for booster seats showing marked improvement in seat safety over last year.

The IIHS rated 72 different boosters, of which 21 received top marks. Last year, only nine seats out of 60 the IIHS tested got the top score, so that's a big improvement.

What was interesting to me was the IIHS test wasn't a crash test; instead, because the booster seat doesn't do the restraining in a crash. Rather, the booster just makes sure the seatbelt, which is designed for an adult, fits correctly over the child, so that's what IIHS tested. Here's an illustration of correct seatbelt placement vs. incorrect for you to evaluate your own booster seat situation.

What I don't understand is how booster seats that don't do the job are allowed to be sold at all. A parent trying to do the right thing and protect their child shouldn't have to worry the seat they're buying won't be effective in a crash.

If you're in the market for a booster seat, do yourself a favor and check out IIHS' recommended list. As a parent of a young child who's getting close to outgrowing her child seat, you can bet I will.

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