There's reassuring news for people who drive with kids in the car. Booster seat manufacturers are doing a better job of making sure kids are as safe as possible when they're buckled in. But the new safety ratings come with a word of caution. Experts at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say they're still finding instances where lap or shoulder belts are not in the safest position for some children.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluated and rated new booster seats to see how well they position belts on 4 to 8 year olds. More than half of the manufacturers selling booster seats this year earned a top rating. Out of 31 new models tested, 19 are considered "Best Bets", meaning, the shoulder and lap belts fit correctly on a child - regardless of the car model.
"With a good booster, the lap belt should lie flat across the upper thighs, not riding up on the tummy," explained IIHS spokeswoman Jessica Jarmakian. "And the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the center of the shoulder. It's not sliding off the shoulder or riding up onto the neck."
The institute, financed by insurance industry, started rating booster seats five years ago after research showed most booster seats were not consistently and correctly fitting kids. Experts say seat manufacturers still have a way to go before most booster seats on the market are considered excellent in terms of safety.
For the 4th year, 2 booster seats were given "Not Recommended" status. The institutes says the Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite, both made by Dorel Juvenile Group- lack the proper belt fit in both the shoulder and the lap. While manufacturers are doing a better job at getting it right- the latest tests find brand, price and style don't always equate with the proper fit you need to protect that precious cargo in the back seat.