Booster Seats: What Parents Should Know

Quiz: At what age is a child ready to wear a seat belt?

    A: Under four
    B: Four to five
    C: Six to seven
    D: Eight or older

If you answered A, B or C, guess again. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children between ages four and eight who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds should use booster seats once they are too big for their car seats. The final transition to an adult seat belt should only be made once a child weighs 80 pounds and is at least four feet nine inches tall -- usually at about age eight.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children four to fourteen years old. And while using car or booster seats is an effective injury-prevention strategy, 86 percent of children who should be restrained in them are inappropriately placed in seat belts.

To reduce the risk of injury, the NHTSA urges parents to use booster seats for their older children. Find out how to use them correctly below.

1. How should preschool and school-age children ride safely?

Your child should stay in a car safety seat with a full harness until the seat is outgrown, usually at about 40 pounds. When a child's shoulders are above the top set of strap slots, it is time for a booster seat.

Booster seats protect the child's upper body either with the shoulder belt or with a shield. The booster also raises the child so the vehicle lap/shoulder belt fits well.

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