Parents and kids alike may want to ditch booster seats too early in life—but booster seats are important tools for preventing serious injuries.
A recent study by child safety advocates at Safe Kids Worldwide found that 86 percent of parents they interviewed had allowed a child to ride without a car or booster seat before they should have.
“Booster seats are very important when it comes to child safety,” says Angela Lumba-Brown, MD, FAAP, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “They protect children who are not tall enough or heavy enough for seat belts to fit correctly.”
If a child uses a seat belt when he’s too small, the seat belt will lay across his stomach, instead of across his lap. The shoulder strap also sits up too high on his shoulder and neck. That puts him at risk for a severe abdominal, neck or head injury if a crash does happen. Booster seats can reduce the chances of those injuries by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8.
“Ask your pediatrician to see if your child is ready to ride without a booster seat,” Dr. Lumba-Brown says. “Every day, we see children in the pediatric emergency department at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with accidents and injuries that could have been prevented by using a booster or car seat properly.”