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Survey Finds Too Many Children Moving Out of Booster Seats Too Soon

PHOTO: Booster seats can reduce injuries during a car crash by 45 percent, but a new survey finds nine out of 10 parents moving children to seat belts before they are big enough. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
PHOTO: Booster seats can reduce injuries during a car crash by 45 percent, but a new survey finds nine out of 10 parents moving children to seat belts before they are big enough. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
September 16, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Kids may often want to act like grown-ups, but experts say riding in a car without a safety seat is something that should be put off for as long as possible.

A new study released Tuesday from Safe Kids Worldwide finds a majority of parents moving their children to seat belts before they are big enough. Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, says booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent over seat belt use alone.

"If there were a crash and they weren't in a booster seat, but just in a regular seat belt," says Carr, "they could suffer internal abdominal injuries or face or neck injuries caused by the belt tightening during the impact of the crash."

The survey found one in five parents say they bend the rules when carpooling and allow children to ride without seat belts or an appropriate child safety seat. One in four report they don't buckle up their children every time they go for a drive. According to the Indiana State Police, over 3,000 children were injured or killed in 2013 in a motor vehicle accident.

A child should be at least four feet and nine inches tall to ride with just a seat belt, and Carr suggests parents make a habit out of measuring their child as they grow.

"Know how tall your child is, and encourage them from an early age 'You'll move out of the booster seat when you hit four-foot-nine,'" she says. "When they're four-foot-nine make sure they're buckled up every ride, every time - and that includes parents too."

Carr adds that proper car seat installation is also important for younger children who are still in a child safety seat.

As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, free car seat inspections are being held at sites around Indiana.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN