On several occasions lately I have seen children who should be in a car booster seat riding around in a car without one. As a public service I thought it would be useful to present some information on boosters seats.
There are two aspects to this, the first is the Laws of Massachusetts and the second is the Laws of Physics, the first one keeps you from getting a ticket, the second one keeps your child safe!
From the Massachusetts state web site:
Beginning July 10, 2008 a child passenger restraint is required by law for children 5-7 years of age or until they reach 4’9” in height in the state of Massachusetts. This means that for children who have grown out of their forward facing child safety seat, the next step is the booster seat.
A booster seat helps your child fit correctly in your vehicle’s safety belt. It positions the lap belt on the hips and the shoulder belt across the chest, providing the greatest amount of protection.
Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children between the ages of 4-8. Booster seats can reduce those injury rates by 58% over seat belt use for that age group.
So even if your child is 9, 10 or 11, if they aren't at least 4'9" tall they still legally need a booster seat!
The other part to this question is whether the Massachusetts law goes far enough. You should of course comply with the law, but is it sufficient to insure your child is adequately protected and here my opinion is no, it is not. The following guidelines are from the Center for Disease control and are based on a huge study of child safety:
- Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of their convertible child safety seats -- when their ears are level with the top of the back of the safety seat and their shoulders are above the top strap slots, or when they reach the upper weight limit for the seat.
- Children should use a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly -- when they are at least 58 inches tall, (4'10"), have a sitting height of 29 inches and weigh 80 pounds (with clothing on).
- To ride comfortably and safely, children must be able to bend their knees over the edge of the seat while sitting with their backs firmly against the seat back. In most cases, this means that children 10 years old and younger should be using a booster seat after they have outgrown the child safety seat.
Based on the CDC recomendations your child should stay in a booster seat until they are over 4'10" tall and over 80 pounds!
For my children we will comply with the Massachusetts law and then continue to use a booster seat until our children exceed the CDC guidelines! Please be smart and keep your children safe, we love seeing them having fun at all the events we work.