Carpooling parents don't always use booster seats

January 30, 2012 1:50:26 PM PST
A booster seat is the stepping stone for kids too big for a car seat, but not ready for the adult seat belt. However, a new study in the Journal Pediatrics finds that most parents do not use booster seats when carpooling.

University of Michigan researchers surveyed nearly 700 parents with 4 to 8 year-old children.

When they had just had their own child in their own car, most parents said they do use the safety seat, but when carpooling and driving other kids at the same time, it was a different story.

"Those parents who always buckle their children up when they are in the car by themselves, only buckle them up about 50% of the time if they were in a carpool and the other children didn't have booster seats," Dr. Michael Macknin of the Cleveland Clinic said.

About 20% of parents do not insist on booster seats when their child is riding with another driver.

The laws vary state to state in terms of when a child must be a car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends booster seats from the time kids outgrow their car seats until they reach four feet, nine inches tall.

"Nineteen of the parents just would take the tallest child and put them in the front seat whether they were tall enough to sit in the front seat or not," Macknin said.

Macknin says putting a small child in the front seat should never be an option. If you crash, the airbag, meant to be a lifesaver, could in fact be deadly.

"If you take a child under 5 feet tall in the front seat of the car with an airbag, if that airbag should deploy even in a minor fender bender the airbag could conceivably kill the child," he said.

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