Keeping Children Safe in Crashes

More than 1,000 children 12 and younger in passenger vehicles die in crashes every year, and more than 100,000 are injured. Parents can reduce the risk to their kids by properly securing them in the back seat of their vehicle.

The pictures below are designed to help parents choose the right type of restraint for their child’s age and size and to provide general information on installation and use.

Booster seats

Booster seats can improve the fit of adult belts for children who have outgrown child restraints, but not all boosters provide the recommended belt fit. It’s important to ensure that the lap belt fits low across the upper thigh, not across the child’s soft abdomen. The shoulder belt should cross snuggly over the center of the shoulder.

poor fit vs. good fit

poor fit vs. good fit

Adult belts

When older children start using the vehicle belts, the shoulder belt should rest across the chest, away from the neck, and the lap belt should fit low and snug across the upper thigh. Your child needs to sit straight up with knees bent at the edge of the seat.

poor fit vs. good fit

Booster seat evaluations

Booster seats are meant to do one thing — elevate children so that safety belts designed for adults are in the right position to restrain kids during a crash. Thirteen of the 41 belt-positioning booster seats the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluated with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute did such a poor job of improving the fit of lap and shoulder belts for children that the Institute doesn’t recommended them at all. Ten models are best bets and 5 are good bets. These evaluations are the first to tell consumers how well boosters sold by US retailers improve belt fit for children in cars, minivans, and SUVs. The Institute plans to continue these assessments.

Proper belt fit
Boosters elevate children so that safety belts designed for adults will fit better. The lap belt should fit flat across a child’s upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen, which is more likely to be injured in a crash than bony structures like the pelvis.

The shoulder belt should cross snugly over the middle of a child’s shoulder. Then it’s in position to provide effective protection in a crash. Plus it’s comfortable to use, so a child won’t be as likely to move it behind the back or under an arm.

BEST BET EXAMPLE: Graco TurboBooster
Shoulder belt — at midshoulder | Lap belt — flat on thighs

Best bet example Best bet example

Shoulder belt — too far out on shoulder | Lap belt — on abdomen

Not recommended example Not recommended example


The 10 best bets are the most likely to position lap and shoulder belts correctly on many children in many cars, minivans, and SUVs.

Graco TurboBooster backless with clip Fisher-Price Safe Voyage backless with clip Combi Kobuk backless with clip
Graco TurboBooster
backless with clip

Model #8493BRG
Manufactured date: 5/14/2003
(top) 5/28/2003 (bottom)
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage
backless with clip

Model #EF35B0A
Manufactured date: 7/31/2006
Combi Kobuk
backless with clip

Model #8970
Manufactured date: 5/28/2005
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage Britax Parkway La Roche Bros. Teddy Bear
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage
Model #EF35B0A
Manufactured date: 7/31/2006
Britax Parkway
Model #E904157
Manufactured date: 11/12/2006
LaRoche Bros. Teddy Bear
Model #2-2004
Manufactured date: 12/30/2006
Safeguard Go backless with clip Volvo booster cushion Recaro Young Style
Safeguard Go
backless with clip

Model #F100165
Manufactured date: 2/19/2007
Volvo booster cushion
Model #PN backseat 3529907
Manufactured date: undetermined
Recaro Young Style
Model #500074242
Manufactured date: 1/29/2007
Britax Monarch
Britax Monarch
Model #E9053E9
Manufactured date: 2/14/2007


The 5 good bets provide acceptable lap and shoulder belt fit in almost as many vehicle belt configurations as the best-bet boosters.

Graco TurboBooster Safety Angle Ride Ryte Recaro Young Sport
Graco TurboBooster
Model #8493BRG
Manufactured date: 5/14/2003 (top)
5/28/2003 (bottom)
Safety Angel Ride Ryte
Model #NB321/FB322
Manufactured date: 2/2006
Recaro Young Sport
Model #500100350
Manufactured date: 5/17/2007
Combi Kobuk Safety 1st/Dorel Apex 65
Combi Kobuk
Model #8970
Manufactured date: 5/28/2005
Safety 1st/Dorel Apex 65
Model #22-531-MSN
Manufactured date: 6/6/2006


The 13 not-recommended boosters don’t position lap and shoulder belts for optimal protection. Twelve leave the lap belt on the abdomen, and 1 positions the lap belt too far forward on the dummy’s legs.

Safety Angel Ride Ryte backless Cosco/Dorel (Eddie Bauer) Summit Graco CarGo Zephyr
Safety Angel Ride Ryte backless
Model #NB321/FB322
Manufactured date: 2/2006
Cosco/Dorel (Eddie Bauer) Summit
Model #22-862-EBCE
Manufactured date: 12/30/2006
Graco CarGo Zephyr
Model #8D01ZPH
Manufactured date: 10/12/2006
Evenflo Big Kid Confidence Cosco/Dorel Traveler Compass B505
Evenflo Big Kid Confidence
Model #3131765A
Manufactured date: 11/3/2006
Cosco/Dorel Traveler
Model #22-270-CBA
Manufactured date: 12/21/2006
Compass B505
Manufactured date: 11/8/2006
Compass B510 Evenflo Generations Dorel/Safety 1st (Eddie Bauer) Prospect
Compass B510
Model #B510-ASPEN
Manufactured date: 11/8/2006
Evenflo Generations
Model #3521607L1
Manufactured date: 11/7/2006
Dorel/Safety 1st (Eddie Bauer) Prospect
Model #22-880-HID
Manufactured date: 12/12/2006
Cosco Highback Booster Cosco/Dorel Alpha Omega Evenflo Chase Comfort Touch
Cosco Highback Booster
Model #02-442-WAL
Manufactured date: 3/25/2001
Cosco/Dorel Alpha Omega
Model #22155-TRP
Manufactured date: 2/27/2007
Evenflo Chase Comfort Touch
Model #3261722L1
Manufactured date: 1/22/2007
Safety 1st/Dorel Intera
Safety 1st/Dorel Intera
Model #22-460-WALA
Manufactured date: 7/10/2006

What if my vehicle doesn’t have shoulder belts?

Belt-positioning booster seats are designed to be used in rear seats with vehicles’ lap/shoulder belts. Most booster seat instruction manuals say you should not use the booster with a lap belt only. This is because lap belts alone still allow your child’s upper body to move, so they do not protect the head and chest as well as the combination of lap/shoulder belts. Always put your child in the rear seat with lap/shoulder belts if available. However, if your only choice is to use a lap belt alone, you still should put your child in a booster seat unless the lap belt fits well by itself.

If you must frequently transport a booster-age child in a seat that has only a lap belt, consider these options to improve your child’s protection:

1. Forward-facing child restraints with higher weight limits: These are designed to restrain booster-age children weighing up to 80 pounds. Some of these seats can be secured to a vehicle using a lap belt only. Others require a top tether in addition to the lap belt. It is always a good idea to use a top tether if your vehicle is equipped with top tether anchors, even if your seat does not require one.

2. Safety vest: A number of these meet all federal regulations for securing children up to adult weight.

When installing a forward-facing child restraint or safety vest, a top tether may be necessary. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to determine which seats are equipped with top tether anchors, and attach the tether only at these positions. If your vehicle is not equipped with a top tether anchor point in any rear-seat position, you may be able to have your car retrofitted with the appropriate hardware. Consult your vehicle manufacturer for more information.

3. Retrofit vehicle for lap/shoulder belts: It may be possible to equip older model vehicles with lap/shoulder belts. Contact your manufacturer to see if your vehicle can be retrofitted.

If you are in the market for a used vehicle, be sure to inspect all seating positions to determine the type of belts. As early as the 1990 model year, automakers began to equip rear outboard seating positions with lap/shoulder belts, and all passenger vehicles were equipped with lap/shoulder belts in these seats by the 1992 model year. Such belts are required in the center rear position of all 2008 and later model vehicles. However, many automakers voluntarily equipped earlier models with lap/shoulder belts in center rear seats.

Source :


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