Insurance Institute for Highway Safety booster seat test

FRESNO, Calif.

Booster seats are for children who have outgrown regular safety seats. Here in California children are required to be in booster seats if they are between four and six years old and weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. The booster seats raise the child so the shoulder and lap belts fit properly.

There are more highly rated seats than ever before. But with booster seats, one size doesn't fit all.

When it comes to booster seats, parents have dozens of products to choose from.

"The trouble is there is no standard for how a booster seat should work. Without our ratings, parents have to check if a particular booster will work with their kid in their vehicle," said David Zuby with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Why does fit matter? In the case of a crash, an improperly fitted booster seat could lead to serious injury or even death. The insurance institute for highway safety tested the safety belt fit of 72 different booster seats. They used a crash test dummy representing an average sized 6-year-old.

"The way we evaluate booster seats is to assess how well they position the lap and shoulder belts on kids in a range of different vehicle types," said Zuby.

21 booster seats were rated best bets and 7 were rated good bets -- a big increase over last year's results. One of the institute's best bets is the Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe.

"You can see that the lap belt lies flat across the upper thighs, not here on the stomach, and the clip helps keep the shoulder belt in the middle of the shoulder so the belts are in good position to provide protection in a crash."

Researchers found 8 of the booster seats did not meet their standards. Including the Evenflo Generations 65. "The main problem is the lap belt is too high on the stomach. Another issue is the shoulder belt is too close to the neck where it will cause comfort issues. The child is liable to wriggle out so that the belt won't be in position to protect him in a crash."

Even within the same manufacturer, like Evenflo, the ratings were all over the place. Some are recommended some aren't -- while some fit well in cars but not SUV's and vice versa.

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