The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the vast majority of new booster seats released this year got top marks in terms of safety, and only one brand on the market today should be avoided.
The IIHS says 13 of 16 new brands of car booster seat earned the safety agency's designation of "best bets," which means they will provide good fit for typical four- to eight-year-olds in almost any car, van, or SUV.
The IIHS, a U.S. nonprofit organization funded by auto insurers, works to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes and associated injuries and property damage.
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Seatbelts in cars are designed for adults, but they can cause harm in children, which is why safety authorities recommend booster seats once kids outgrow harness-based car seats. Children between the ages of four and eight are 45 per cent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes if they are in boosters than if they are using safety belts alone, the IIHS says.
IIHS has been rating boosters since 2008 on their ability to provide good lap and shoulder belt fit.
The agency says kids should ride in boosters until a vehicle safety belt fits correctly by itself. For some kids, that doesn't happen until age 12 or so, the IIHS says.
The new best bets retail for between $40 and $250 US, and many of them are available in Canada too. They are listed here:
- Chicco GoFit (backless)
- Cosco Finale (highback)
- Cosco Finale DX (highback)
- Diono Monterey XT (backless mode)
- Diono Monterey XT (highback mode)
- Evenflo Spectrum (backless mode)
- Evenflo Spectrum (highback mode)
- Graco Wayz (backless mode)
- Graco Wayz (highback mode)
- Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
- Nuna AACE (backless mode)
- Nuna AACE (highback mode)
- Peg-Perego Viaggio Shuttle (backless)
"You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a quality booster seat," IIHS senior research engineer Jessica Jermakian said in a release. "Unlike more complicated harness-equipped restraints, a booster is a simple device that doesn't require any special features to do its job."
The models above join 105 that were already given the best bet rating, some of which can be bought for as little as $13 , such as the Harmony Youth Booster and the Diono Hip.
"Boosters need to elevate the child and guide the lap belt so that it lies flat on the upper thighs and not up against the tummy and position the shoulder belt so that it fits snugly across the middle of the shoulder," Jeremakian said.
A complete list of all 118 models that are considered to be best bets by the IIHS can be found here, along with those given other ratings.
In addition to the top rated ones, three new models were given "check fit" designations, which means they could work for some children in some vehicles. They are:
- Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
- Kiddy Cruiser 3 (highback)
- Ride Safer Delighter Booster (backless)
Only one current seat — the Safety 1st Summit 65 — is rated "not recommended," which means it doesn't provide a good fit and should be avoided. The Safety 1st Summit 65 is sold in Canada at various retailers and online.
Four others that had been designated "not recommended" were discontinued earlier this year.