Safety Archive

2017 IIHS Booster Seat Ratings Bonanza: Where Does Your Booster Seat Rank?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
Does your booster rate as a Best Bet?

It’s that time of year again: fall has arrived, the air is crisp, turkey day is around the corner, thoughts are on naughty and nice lists, and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) released their annual fit ratings of belt-positioning booster seats. Because proper seat belt fit on children is so important to their safety in a crash, having a booster seat that adjusts the seat belt easily for both parent and child is paramount. Fortunately, since the IIHS has released their ratings for years and given access to their testing protocol to manufacturers, we have many more excellent choices than ever before. This year IIHS evaluated 16 booster models and 13 earned their highest ranking of Best Bet. We now have an overall total of 118 Best Bet boosters available in the retail market from which to choose!

Beginning this year, IIHS used a new dummy designed specifically for these tests called Jasper (Juvenile Anthropomorphic Seat-belt Position Evaluation Rig). IIHS worked with Humanetics, the dummy’s manufacturer to design Jasper, which represents a 45 pound 6 yr old.

What makes a “Best Bet” booster seat? The booster should correctly position the seat belt on a typical 4-8 year old child in most vehicles. A correctly positioned seat belt will fit low on the lap, touching the thighs, and cross the shoulders about half-way over the collarbone. The shoulder belt should move freely through the belt guide if you have a highback booster.

But remember, your vehicle may not be “most” vehicles and may have a different belt geometry. Always try before you buy, if you can, and hold onto the box and receipt in case you need to return the booster.

“Good Bet” means that the belt fit will be acceptable in most vehicles and these boosters shouldn’t be automatically shunned because they aren’t “top tier.”

“Check Fit” means just that: it may fit a larger child better than a smaller child in some vehicles or vice versa. I’ve used “Check Fit” boosters quite successfully before with my kids in my cars—it definitely doesn’t mean you should chuck the seat out with the bathwater.

What Does Good Belt Fit Look Like?

Most kids need boosters until ages 10-12. Seat belts are designed to fit adult bodies and until children reach adult size, they need a restraint that helps the seat belt fit them or they are at risk of severe injury or death in a crash. The 5-Step Test was designed to help parents determine when their kids fit safely in a seat belt without needing a booster seat.

Sometimes it can be confusing and not at all clear as to whether the seat belt is sitting on the child correctly or not. When evaluating belt fit, it’s always best to dress the child in tight-fitting clothes that don’t bunch; the worst outfit to choose is jeans and a sweatshirt.

Highback boosters with headwings generally have the shoulder belt guides attached and adjust in height. Please check your instruction manual on how to raise the headwings to adjust the shoulder belt position on your child’s shoulder.

New Best Bet Boosters Tested in 2017

This is not an all-inclusive list – many boosters were rated in previous years. You can search all the booster ratings, current and previous years, by manufacturer HERE.

IIHS-BEST-BET-BOOSTER-color
Manufacturer and Model Can Use LATCH CarseatBlog Review CarseatBlog Recommended Seat
Chicco GoFit (backless)
Cosco Finale (highback) Review
Cosco Finale DX (highback) Review
Diono Monterey XT (backless)
Diono Monterey XT (highback) Yes
Evenflo Spectrum (backless) Review
Evenflo Spectrum (highback) Review Yes
Graco Wayz (backless) Review
Graco Wayz (highback) Yes Review
Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback) Yes Review Yes
Nuna AACE (backless) Yes
Nuna AACE (highback) Yes
Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle (backless) Yes

Check Fit Boosters
Manufacturer and Model Can Use LATCH CarseatBlog Review CarseatBlog Recommended Seat
Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
Kiddy USA Cruiser 3 (highback) Yes
Ride Safer Delighter Booster (backless) Review

Not Recommended Boosters

For the first time in years, there are no new boosters on the “Not Recommended” lists; however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still Not Recommended boosters from past years still being used or for sale as leftover stock. One seat, the Safety 1st Summit 65, is still being manufactured. It is worth looking at the list to make sure a booster you’re using or considering isn’t on this list. These boosters have demonstrated consistently poor belt fit.

For the complete 2017 IIHS Status Report with listing of all previously ranked boosters, visit the IIHS website: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/child-boosters

Given the number of Best Bet boosters available, chances are high that your booster kid is using one. However, if you’re using a booster that doesn’t garner that coveted Best Bet label, remember to do a fit check yourself in every vehicle you use the booster in since seat belt geometry varies so much. If you have a booster on the Not Recommended list, we do suggest that you find a dedicated belt-positioning booster from the Best Bet list and it need not break the bank.

If you’d like more guidance on which booster to choose, we have our own list of Recommended Carseats with a section on booster seats.

Take me home, country roads…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

But not that kind of home. Like, my actual house. Not the eternal home.

Sometimes when it comes to the topic of child safety, I struggle to think of a topic to discuss. Obviously, there are topics that are super important and commonly brought up such as installation, coats in car seats, tether usage, fit to child, etc. However, as I was driving the peaceful winding road to get Liam from school, I paid more attention to the common scene in front of me. Two preteen boys were sitting in the back of a truck on hay bales, each with a wiggly, happy dog held steady by the boys’ knees. As I got closer to the school, I passed the local high school and saw the usual rowdy bunch of kids riding home in the beds of pickup trucks driven by their friends, laughing and smiling in the wind and sunshine. For most people around here, it’s a scene of youth. It’s how it’s always been, and how it will always be.

When we think of child passenger safety, we think of babies. Little kids. Kids in boosters. We don’t often think of those wild, free, tousled hair, uninhibited teenagers. Yet they are at the height of the incredible feeling of invincibility, taking risks left and right and scaring the crud out of their parents. Talking sense into them sometimes feels more difficult than other age groups, and enforcing rules sometimes seems even harder.

As I watch the boys laugh when the truck hits a bump, I wonder about the person driving. I’m assuming it’s the father of one of the boys. I wonder what sets him at ease with having two children in the bed of a truck. Surely it’s not lack of knowledge. Sure, not everyone knows how to install a car seat properly but most everyone knows it’s not safe to ride without a seatbelt or in the bed of a truck. So what is it? Tradition? Culture? Both?

Well obviously, because if you didn’t survive you couldn’t share the meme.

According to the USDOT in 2012, while only 19% of people live in rural areas, 54% of crash fatalities occur on rural roads. Road maintenance, lack of lighting, and roads with only one lane each way probably has a lot to do with it, situations like what I described above may also be contributory. Here in Union County, which straddles both NC and SC, we’ve had more than our share. Just in the last two weeks alone we’ve had 4 people killed after colliding with a tractor-trailer, a person airlifted out after an 18 wheeler (that doesn’t belong on these back roads) smacked into the car, two high school students killed, and just last week my neighbors lost their only daughter after she was rear-ended while sitting at a red light. All within a 10-mile radius. Our roads are beautifully lined with wildflowers and old barns with a history beyond what I can comprehend, but they are also trails of sadness with the multiple crosses, memorials, flowers, and candles.

Insert name here.

Tradition is heavy here. It’s hard to make changes to something that has been commonplace for so long, something that “we’ve all done and are just fine”. Roads change, vehicles change, populations change. Generations change. Every day I see it- farmers are changing from the traditional ways of our grandparents to the innovative and creativity of the younger generation. Our generation craves information, efficiency, new ways of doing things. Hopefully with that will come a recognition of the fact that while some horrible things are out of our control, it’s amazing what knowledge we are armed with to protect ourselves and our children.

I silently willed my thoughts into the rearview mirror of that man driving. Urging him to recognize that one sideswipe or bump in the road is all it takes to change this everyday memory into yet another cross on the side of the road. When driving, we are all one Facebook post away from our own roadside vigil. Tradition runs strong, but nothing says strength like taking knowledge and adapting for survival.

Safe and Warm! A review of the Buckle Me Baby Coat

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

One of the last posts I wrote was lamenting the end of summer. I apparently spoke too soon because it was like 90 degrees here up until last week, then last night we had tornadoes, and now it’s 72. So…fall? Maybe. It’s that weird weather where it’s freezing in the morning but if you wear long sleeves you are sweating your you-know-what off by the afternoon. However, I know this means that steadily cool weather is not far away, and with it comes this previous desert-dwelling girl’s most hated thing: getting in a cold car.

So what do you do when the weather is cold? Wear a jacket, obviously. But if you’ve been around us for awhile you know the age-old lesson of bulky coats and car seats: NOPE. Jennie has elaborated on this way better than I could in her article on winter coat suggestions. So what the heck are you supposed to do? Well, one option that has recently become available is to purchase a coat specifically made to be worn in a car seat.

Enter an up-and-coming new company called Buckle Me Baby Coats. Based out of New Hampshire, Buckle Me Baby Coats (we’re going to refer to them as BMBC from here on out) was founded by a brilliant and creative mother of 3, Dahlia. She was searching for a way to put her idea in action for years, and after some time and hard work, the coat was born!

The coat comes in six fashions. Blue (Deepest of Oceans), orange (Orange-inal), pink (Power of Pink), purple (Indi-go-go-go), red (I Lava You), and an olive green (The Warrior Within). Declan’s favorite color is red, and since I knew he actually had to like the coat to cooperate with me, Dahlia was nice enough to send me the ‘I Lava You’ fashion.

Halloween – The Most Dangerous Night of the Year

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

The risk of a child pedestrian being killed by a driver is twice as high on Halloween night.

halloween-pedestrian-safety-graphic-2

If you are driving on Halloween (especially during the hours of 4-8 pm when most young pedestrian deaths occur) please exercise extreme caution and follow these 5 simple tips:

1. Drive slowly and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
2. Park your cell phone. Tonight is the worst possible night to be a distracted driver!
3. Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
4. Always yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
5. Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals and if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.

Have a Happy & Safe Halloween!