Q. When is it safe to move my child out of a booster seat?
A. Booster seats are used after children are too big for a car seat but still too small to be protected by just a seat belt. A recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide, funded in part by the General Motors Foundation, showed that nine out of 10 parents move their children from booster seats before the child is big enough, and seven of 10 don't even know when it's safe to do so.
Moving a child out of a booster seat isn't determined by age, says Kate Carr, president and chief executive of Safe Kids Worldwide. A child should be at least 4 foot 9 inches tall (57 inches) and weigh at least 80 pounds before eliminating the booster seat. Using booster seats appropriately has been shown to reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seat belts alone.
"What you want to make sure is that the lap belt fits across the hip bone, not across the abdomen, and that the shoulder belt is resting on the shoulder, not the neck or the face," Carr says.
Parents should be sure kids use a booster seat when carpooling or being driven by grandma, for instance. Booster seats are easy because they don't require complex installation.
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from injuries.