Update: Booster Seats
Booster Seats for Children
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Child
Passenger Safety Week-February 14-20, 1999. Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report 1999;48(4):83-84.
An article published in the February 5, 1999 MMWR recommends
that parents use booster seats when driving with children who have outgrown their
child safety seats. These recommendations were issued in observance of
National Child Passenger Safety Week (February 14-20, 1999), by a
partnership between CDC=s
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the American
Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the National
Transportation Safety Board.
What Is a Booster Seat?
Belt-positioning booster seats are designed to raise children up on
the car seat so that the lap/shoulder belts fit correctly. This is the
preferred type of booster seat and requires a lap/shoulder belt in the
back seat of the vehicle. Shield booster seats have a plastic shield
in front of the child. These seats offer less protection, however, and
the report recommends they only be used with the shields removed so
that they function as belt-positioning booster seats.
Why Use a Booster Seat?
In the United States, 1,791 children younger than 15 years were
killed and 282,000 were injured as passengers in motor vehicle crashes
in 1997. Among 5 to 9-year-old passengers, 46% of those involved in
fatal crashes were unrestrained.1
Who Should Use a Booster Seat?
Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of
their convertible child safety seats -- when their ears are level with
the top of the back of the safety seat and their shoulders are above
the top strap slots, or when they reach the upper weight limit for the
seat. Children should use a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts
in the car fit properly -- when they are at least 58 inches tall, have
a sitting height of 29 inches and weigh 80 pounds (with clothing on).2
To ride comfortably and safely, children must be able to bend their
knees over the edge of the seat while sitting with their backs firmly
against the seat back. In most cases, this means that children 10
years old and younger should be using a booster seat after they have
outgrown the child safety seat.
Where Should Booster Seats Be Placed in the
All children 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat
whenever possible, regardless of whether they require a booster seat.
For More Information
Check out the following web sites to learn more about child
passenger protection and age/weight-specific recommendations:
Society of Automotive Engineers
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Transportation Safety Board
- US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. Children. Traffic Safety Facts 1997.
Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration; 1998.
- Klinich, KD, Pritz, HB, Beebe MS, et al. Study of Older Child
Restraint/Booster Seat Fit and NASS Injury Analysis. National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration Final Report, DOT HS 808
248, November 1994.