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Safest Car Booster Seats Vary Based on Age, Weight & Height

A list of the safest car booster seats for children has been released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS evaluated 19 new booster seats and ranked the top performers that provided the best all-around protection.

Keep Kids in the Back For Safety
The safest position for children is to ride in the back seat with a proper age- and size- restraint, until they are big enough for adult safety belts to fit securely. That means starting out in a rear-facing restraint before changing to a forward-facing restraint and then a booster seat.

All states have enacted laws requiring the use of some type of child passenger restraint system. Child passenger restraint requirements vary based on age, weight and height. There are three basic phases:

Rear-facing child restraint in the back seat

  • Ideal for babies and young children
  • Never use a rear-facing restraint in the front seat
  • Babies and toddlers should stay in a rear-facing restraint until at least
    age 2
  • Route the harness through the slots that are at or slightly below your child’s shoulders.
  • Harness should fit snug, position the chest clip even with chest/armpit.

Forward-facing child safety seats for toddlers

  • Appropriate for children from age 2 to 7 years.
  • Keep children in forward-facing restraints for as long as possible (within stated height/weight limits of the child restraint).
  • Route the harness through the slots that are at or slightly below your child’s shoulders.
  • Harness should fit snug, position the chest clip even with chest/armpit.

 Booster Seats for Older Children

  • Kids too large for child restraints should use belt-positioning booster seats until adult belts fit properly. For some kids, that’s not until age 12.
  • The shoulder belt should fit snug across the center of the shoulder and not across the neck or face or slipping off the shoulder.
  • The lap belt should lie flat across the upper thighs and not on the stomach

Many laws require all children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, and most states permit children over a particular age, height or weight to use an adult safety belt.

First offense fines for not complying with a state’s child passenger safety laws vary from $10 to $500. Some states also use driver’s license points as an additional penalty for noncompliance.

  •  All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific standards.
  • 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require booster seats or other appropriate devices for children who have outgrown their child safety seats but are still too small to use an adult seat belt safely.

The only states lacking booster seat laws are Florida and South Dakota.

  • 5 states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York) have seat belt requirements for school buses. Texas requires them on buses purchased after September 2010.

Need help installing the booster seat?  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posts a Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator. Find a child car seat inspection station nearest you. Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat, in most cases, free of charge – and show you how to correctly install and use it.
For a complete chart of Child Passenger Safety Laws for every state visit

Are you looking for a new booster seat? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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