Safety Archive

4’9” / Age 8 / 80 lbs.: Does Your Kid Still Need A Booster?

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I’ve been patiently waiting, just like other parents, for my oldest child to grow up—he’s 10 and a half now (born New Year’s Eve, 1999, and yes, we had our bathtub filled with water—did you?).  I know, I know.  They’re only little once, I should appreciate him being small while he is, yada yada yada.  Small is not a word I’ve ever associated with my ds.  He was big from the get-go and only got bigger, lol.  Since I’ve been a child passenger safety technician for most of my ds’s life, I’ve had a keen interest in how he fits in carseats and vehicles.  Now that he’s 4’11.5”, he’s tall enough to be riding in just an adult seatbelt, right?

You’d think so.  When he’s walking around in his shoes, he’s definitely 5’ tall, little bugger.  He’s catching up to me 😉 and is taller than some women already.  Generally the only kids taller than him in his class at school are the girls.  So why is he still in his backless booster when he’s clearly over 4’9” and close to 80 lbs., which is what NHTSA tells us is the safe height for kids to move out of boosters?  Even the Ad Council has these great ads educating us about 4’9”.  Twenty states have laws based on 4’9” and of those twenty, five states have added provisions about 80 lbs.: children must ride in boosters or some other form of child restraint until they meet the height and/or weight criteria before moving to an adult seatbelt.  Only two states, Wyoming and Tennessee*, have laws requiring kids to ride in boosters to age 8.

IIHS Releases New Booster Seat Evaluations: 28 Models are Best Bets or Good Bets!

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The IIHS has just released ratings for boosters in regard to how well they are likely to fit your child.  It’s been almost a year since Kecia commented on their last round of tests.  No doubt, manufacturers and industry groups will be issuing their responses soon, too.  You can see some of the previous responses and a video demonstration of correct fit in my blog from last winter.

Within the next couple weeks, we will have a more detailed response to these new ratings and some information to help you determine when your child is really ready to “graduate” from a booster to just a seatbelt.  I’ll tell you it isn’t always at 4’9″ tall, at 8 years old, at 80 pounds or any other easy to remember number!  For now, please consider the IIHS guidelines as simply that, good suggestions on models that are likely to work well with a variety of kids in various vehicles.  Because they tested with one specific size dummy (average 6-year old size) in four vehicle seats, the ratings are somewhat limited and subjective.  That means that there will be many exceptions.  Even so, the models they rate as “Best Bets” and “Good Bets” are a good place to start when you are shopping.  We’ve reviewed many of the same models and often agree with the IIHS conclusions.  What if your booster is “Not Recommended”?  Don’t panic!  Just check for yourself to see if it fits your child well in your vehicle.  Don’t know how?  Check out Kecia’s great guide.  If it doesn’t, then you might consider a different model or consulting a trained technician in your area for help.

Finally, kudos to Kecia, our booster expert and author of many of our booster reviews.  I know she worked with Harmony regarding some concerns with the original Secure Comfort Deluxe and other models. I’d like to think some of that feedback helped Harmony put the revised Secure Comfort Deluxe plus 4 other models in the “Best Bet” category!

Best Bet models include: Britax Frontier 85 (combination highback), Chicco Keyfit Strada (dual highback), Clek Oobr (dual highback), Cosco Juvenile Pronto (dual highback), Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback), Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (dual highback), Evenflo Big Kid Amp (backless), Evenflo Maestro (combination highback), Graco TurboBooster Crawford (dual highback), Harmony Baby Armor (dual highback), Harmony Dreamtime (dual backless), Harmony Dreamtime (dual highback), Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe (backless), Harmony Youth Booster Seat (backless), Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (dual highback), Recaro ProBOOSTER (highback), Recaro ProSPORT (combination highback), Recaro Vivo (highback), Recaro Young Sport (combination highback), Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (dual highback), and the The First Years Pathway B570 (highback).

Good Bet models include: Britax Parkway SG (dual highback), Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual backless),  Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual highback), Evenflo Symphony 65 (3-in-1 highback), Graco TurboBooster Sachi (dual highback), Graco TurboBooster Wander (dual highback) and the Maxi-Cosi Rodi (dual highback).

Stay tuned, as we hope to have a giveaway or two of some of these top rated models over the next couple weeks!

Vehicle Safety Quick Tip–Mirror Position

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Did you know that there are optimal positions for your outside mirrors?  Most of us learn to drive thinking that as long as we glance in our side mirrors and can see the vehicles in the lanes next to us, we’re doing great.  But those mirrors serve a purpose to help us see in our blind spots.  Some vehicles have much larger blind spots than others and the mirrors can help us virtually eliminate the blind spots and avoid side swipes, or nasty horn honking at the very least.

So, what is optimal positioning for your side mirrors?  Position them so that you can only see a smidge of your vehicle in them.  Yep, you don’t need to see a chunk of your vehicle in the mirror—think about it.  Why would you?  If you don’t already have your mirrors in this optimal position and it’s hard for you to change suddenly, make the change gradually.  That’s what I had to do several years ago and it took me about a week of changing the mirrors a notch each day to get used to the new position.  Habits are hard to break, but if it keeps you from wiping someone out, hey, it’s worth it!













Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

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Is one seat better or easier for airplane traveling than another?  Perhaps.  It all depends on our mantra: the best carseat is the one that fits your vehicle, your child, and your budget.  We’ve obviously got 2 vehicles here: the airplane and the car.  You may think that your carseat looks too wide to use on an aircraft, but it may not be.  Remember that armrests can be lifted and often the widest part of the carseat is above the armrest on the airplane seat, so it can be done.  Some folks who travel often do buy a different carseat just for traveling because their main carseat is heavier or bulkier than the travel seat.  The travel seat can also be a backup seat for a babysitter or grandma’s car.