Booster seats can reduce injuries during a car crash by 45 percent, but a new survey finds 90 percent of parents move their children to seat belts before they’re big enough. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
Kids often want to act like grownups, but experts say having children ride in cars the way mom and dad do is something that should be put off for as long as possible. A new study from Safe Kids Worldwide finds the majority of parents are moving their children to seat belts before they are big enough. Organization president and CEO Kate Carr says that’s troubling because booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent over seat belt use alone. “If there were to be a crash and they weren’t in a booster seat, but just in a regular seat belt, they could likely suffer internal abdominal injuries or face or neck injuries caused by the belt tightening during the impact of the crash,” says Carr. The survey also found one-in-five parents say they bend the rules when carpooling and allow children to ride without seat belts or an appropriate child-safety seat. In Tennessee last year, state troopers issued nearly 75,000 seat belt and child-restraint device citations. A child should be at least 4-feet, 9-inches tall to ride with just a seat belt, and Carr suggests parents make a habit of measuring their child as they grow. “Know how tall your child is, and encourage them from an early age that, ‘You’ll move out of the booster seat when you hit 4 feet, 9 inches tall,’” says Carr. “When they’re 4-feet, 9-inches tall, make sure they’re buckled up every ride, every time and that includes parents, too.” Carr adds, proper car-seat installation is also critical for maximum safety.