Entries in Car Seats (3)


California Mandates Car Seats for Kids Up to 8 Years Old

Creatas/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- California is the latest state to tell 6 and 7-year-olds to get back into their car seats.

A new measure that kicks in Jan. 1 will mandate car seats for children until they are 8, or 4 feet 9 inches tall. Under current law in the state, kids must be in car seats until they are 6 or 60 pounds.

The measure -- signed by Gov. Jerry Brown after similar bills were previously vetoed twice by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger --  moves closer to guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The penalty for violating the new law will be a minimum of $479 for a first offense, according to a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The NHTSA recommends booster seats for 8 to 12-year-olds, or until the child can fit properly into a regular seat belt, with the lap belt across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt across the chest, not the neck.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends a booster until the seat belt fits as it should -- usually between ages 8 and 12.

States that now mandate car seats up to age 8 include Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Washington.

Kristy Arbogast, engineering director at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said 8 is the earliest that a child should give up a booster seat.

"We really have no doubt this was the right thing to do," she said, citing research at Children's Hospital in 2009 that showed a 45 percent reduction in risk when children were in booster seats between the ages of 4 and 8.

"It's all about seat-belt fit," said Arbogast. When the belt hits the neck, she said, kids will often slip out of the shoulder belt and put it behind their back -- leaving them at risk of skull fractures and brain injuries in a crash.

As a parent, she sympathizes with California moms and dads who will have to tell their 6 and 7-year-olds to start sitting in a booster seat. "It's going to be tough," she said, but suggested parents should tell kids: "It's not mommy and daddy's decision, it's the law, it's the police."

A good technique, she said, is to keep younger children in high-back booster seats as long as possible, then transition to backless boosters for older kids. They have a big plus from kids' point of view: you can't tell from outside the car that the child's sitting in a booster seat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Some Booster Seats Offer a Better Boost than Others

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Parents of young children now have a better selection than ever of car booster seats that offer good protection.

These seats are usually used with children age 4 to 8, and they're designed to raise up those smaller bodies so they fit properly into the car seatbelts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined more than 80 models, and found that 31 of them would correctly position a seatbelt in any type of vehicle: an SUV, minivan or car.  That's up from 21 top-rated seats last year, and nine the year before.

"We're encouraged that there are more top-rated seats available for parents," Anne McCartt, senior vice president of the Insurance Institute, told ABC News.  "We think a lot of that is that manufacturers are paying attention to our ratings and modifying their seats or introducing new seats that do a good job."

The seats should work to position lap belts across the upper thigh, not across the child's abdomen.  And shoulder straps should fit across the middle of the shoulder, not over the arm or neck.  Studies have shown booster seats can reduce the likelihood of injuries in a crash by 45 percent.

The institute's ratings are not based on crash tests but on measurements.

"We will take a 6-year-old dummy," says McCartt, "and we specially outfit it and we place it in a booster, installing it according to the manufacturer guidelines."

The institute then fastens four different types of lap-shoulder belts, representing what's found in today's vehicles, to see how well they fit.

The group's 31 Best Bets include booster seats with backs, and booster seats with just bases.  They even include a new inflatable seat called the BubbleBum, designed for families on the go.  One company, Harmony Juvenile Products, located in Canada, had all five of the seats it manufactures on the top-rated list.  Seats by Britax, Evenflo, Graco and SafetyFirst also made the list.

Not all seats made the grade.  Six of them did not perform well, and the institute says it can't recommend them.  Those are four models made by Evenflo -- the Case, Express, Generations 65 and Sightseer -- and two SafetyFirst seats -- the All-In-One and the Alpha Omega Elite.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Car Seats Marketed for Heavier Kids Not Federally Regulated

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Government health experts say obesity among American children is a national epidemic and now, that is showing up in the family car.

Makers of child car safety seats traditionally designed for children up to 65 pounds are now marketing for heavier kids -- up to 85 pounds.  The redesign, experts say, is largely because of the increasing rate of childhood obesity.

The manufacturers reportedly are responding to parents with overweight children who are still too young for booster seats.  But the Washington Post reports that federal regulations do not cover seats for toddlers that heavy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio