In two weeks my youngest son will turn 8. That means in New York State, where we live, he would be “legal” riding in just the adult seatbelt. But is following the legal minimums in your state really a good idea? You wouldn’t sign your kid out of school on his or her 16th birthday just because the law says you can, right? And you wouldn’t let your child marry their first cousin at age 14 (with parental consent, of course!) just because you live in Alabama where this is actually legal, would you? Do you see where I’m going with this?
Ditching the booster seat as soon as your state law allows it only means that you can’t be ticketed. It doesn’t mean that it’s recommendable or even safe. Restraint laws for children are the perfect example of laws that really fall short. When it comes to protecting our “big kids” from the #1 cause of death and injury in their age group, you need more than the law on your side. You need to insist that your kids (and those in your care) continue to use a booster seat until they can pass the 5-Step Test in the vehicle(s) that they ride in.
Adult seatbelts are just not designed to fit kids and uncomfortable kids are at much greater risk of serious injury because they either don’t buckle up at all or they misuse the seatbelt in ways that reduce effectiveness and contribute to internal injuries (see video below). Unfortunately, even a lap/shoulder seatbelt that is worn “correctly” by a child may cause injuries in a crash because it usually doesn’t contact the strong parts of the body – pelvic bones and collar bone. Very often the lap belt portion of the seatbelt crosses the abdomen instead which can lead to serious internal injuries and even paralysis.
Still not convinced or need help convincing someone else? Take a moment and check out this compelling video, Boost ’em in the Back Seat, courtesy of the Department of Pediatrics‘ Division of Community Health and Research (CHR) at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Virginia. Funding for this video and related research was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you agree that this is important, life-saving information please share this compelling video and help us spread the word that BOOSTERS ARE FOR BIG KIDS!!!
I’m always surprised by how many kids AND parents are thrilled to be “done” with boosters at the 8th birthday. Is a backless booster really such an imposition?
Yeah, I totally don’t get the age 8 thing either. I even wrote a blog on that exact subject some time ago. A boy in the 95th percentile for height doesn’t reach 4’9″ until age 9. A boy in the 50th percentile for ht doesn’t get there until age 11.
I’d love to know where they get the age 8 from…. in Nova Scotia, it is 9. Or 4’9″ tall. My oldest is tall for her age and still didn’t reach the height requirement before her 9th birthday.
@ KQ, you’d be amazed at how my “leaders” are afraid to lead. If only the general public knew.
Kiddo was just asking me when the law would “allow” her to ride without a booster. I told her when the law would allow it, but told her WE wouldn’t allow it until she was the right age/size.
also, important to remember that all vehicles are different. My son will be 11 in about 1month and while he’s passed for about a year in my van, he still needs his backless booster in his dad’s car.
Ok. I think most of the points in this video are pretty good. However, my beef with it is that this perfectly points out how passive parenting has become in the US. We didnt have the option to wear or not wear a seat belt growing up. The rule was that if you are in a car you have a seat belt on and you wear it the way it was meant to be worn. None of this crap about fiddling with the belt, putting it behind your head or getting out. Thats crap. Be the adult in the relationship & control your kids. Put rules in place & inforce them. Like the lady said “the car doesn’t move unless you’re in your seat”. If you’re the parent & you’re in control. Make your kids behave.
Your neighboring states like the one that has a proper fit clause for seatbelt use for children over the age that specifically have to have CRs? 😉
I would love to know where they get age 8 as well. According to the CDC growth charts, both boys and girls in the 50th percentile don’t reach 4’9″ until age 11 and really height plays more of a role with belt fit than weight does. Age 8 is easy, for sure, but it’s definitely not accurate. My tall ds was in a booster until age 11 and *needed* it and my 10 yr old dd is still in a booster and will be for some time.
From a legislative perspective, it’s extremely difficult to get new/amended laws passed. We’re a 6 or 60 state and we’ll be working on increasing limits this next session, but we have to put out feelers as to how our legislators will vote before we can determine where to go with it. I proposed using the 5-step test to my task force, but they all agreed that was much too progressive, especially since our neighboring states aren’t that aggressive with their laws. Maybe we’ll get 4’9″ out of it, but then it needs to be easy to enforce (yes, officer, whip out your measuring tape please). What would be easiest is if parents would do what’s safest for their children instead of relying on the government to persuade them via enforcement to do the minimum of safety.
Me too! I keep saying booster your kid who is over 8, but I have no evidence of a kid who has been majorly injured or killed by being in just a proper seatbelt. I am sure they are out there? Links? Photos? And why oh why does the law stop at 8? EVERYONE I know ditches the booster at 8. Why isn’t it 10? Who is making these laws?
I like this blog, by the way!
This is great!
Do we have examples of more crash test videos or any examples of injuries for kids who did NOT have the shoulder belt behind them or under their arm when not in a booster? I think the shoulder belt behind/under are very important points, but I’d like to have some additional support to show people about the fact that the belt can still cause injuries even when the shoulder belt isn’t moved behind or under the arm.
If I felt school was doing my child no good after 16, yeah, I might sign her out. 😉 My kids will probably “graduate” from formal home schooling at 16 (maybe not, but probably. To go on to something else, say an apprenticeship program or community college. Or whatever they choose to do at that point.) So, um, maybe not the best example?
The booster points are, of course, excellent.
I’ve added this to my recent spurt of pro-booster posts on facebook. Thanks! 🙂