NPR : News

Filed Under:

Parents Cheat On Booster Seats, Despite Safety Risks

Grade-schoolers are supposed to be riding in booster seats. But anyone who's ever chauffeured a bunch of second-graders can tell you that the day will come when you don't have enough boosters to go around. Faced with this obvious safety risk, most parents (including this one) buckle up the kids without boosters, and pray.

That's confirmed by a new survey in this week's Pediatrics, which found that parents are good at using booster seats when driving 4- to 8-year-olds in the family car, with 76 percent using boosters.

But they were not so good when carpooling. Only half make their children use booster seats when they are riding in the family car with friends who don't have boosters, and 21 percent let their own child ride booster-less when in someone else's car.

Some parents resorted to obviously unsafe choices, including buckling two children in one seat belt, or putting a child in the cargo area.

That means a lot of children are being exposed to the risk of serious injury. Children in this age range still aren't big enough to be safely restrained by car seat belts. Using a booster to position the lap and seat belt properly reduces injury risk by half.

The 681 parents surveyed said they didn't use booster seats for a number of reasons, including difficulty getting seats from other parents, and being unable to fit enough seats in the car.

Legal pressure clearly helps; parents were far more likely to use boosters if they live in one of the 47 states that require them for children up to 4 feet 9 inches in height. (Here's an earlier NPR story on state efforts to require booster seats.)

I've never known a child injured in a car crash, even though it's the most common cause of death in children ages 3 to 14. But I figured I should find out what can happen to a child if they're in an accident without a booster seat. It's not pretty. In this 2005 study, eight children ages 4 to 8 who were wearing only seat belts suffered serious abdominal injuries. Five broke their spine. And four are permanently paralyzed. That sure got my attention.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration spells out the details for safe use of boosters in children ages 8 to 12.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Republicans are adamant they will stop anyone President Obama names to replace for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It's possible Obama's nominee would face the longest wait in history for a vote.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.