IIHS Adds 15 2012 Booster Seats to “Best Bet” List
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has added 15 new-for-2012 booster seats to those receiving its top rating of “Best Bet.” As Cheryl Jensen writes for The New York Times blog Wheels, IIHS’s latest rating brings the total of Best Bet boosters to 47, which includes new models and older top-rated designs still on the market. They range in price from $19 to $300. As the IIHS writes in a press release, “Among the new BEST BET models, the backless Graco TurboBooster COLORZ sells for about $26, the highback TurboBooster retails for about $50 and the backless Harmony Carpooler starts at about $35.”
Booster seats are for children ages four and under who have outgrown their forward-facing child-safety seat, but who are under 4 feet 9 inches tall and thus not large enough to wear a car’s adult seat belt, Jennifer Newman writes on the Cars.com blog Kicking Tires. A booster raises the child so that the vehicle’s adult seat belt is correctly positioned across his or her chest and lap, she adds.
Newman writes about how the seats are tested:
IIHS’ list of evaluated booster seats, including high-back and backless boosters, has grown to 91 for 2012. The institute looks at seat belt fit with the boosters and uses a test dummy that represents the average 6-year-old. The fit of lap and shoulder belts on the dummy are measured in each booster under four conditions exemplifying real-world belt configurations. The booster seats are not crash-tested because the car’s seat belts do the heavy-lifting, keeping the child safe in a crash.
As Jensen points out, in addition to the Best Bet category, which means a booster would correctly position belts on a typical 4-to-8-year-old in almost any car, minivan, or sport utility vehicle, the IIHS also rates booster seats as Good Bets, those providing an acceptable fit in most vehicles, and Check Fit, which means a booster might work well in some vehicles but not as many as the other two categories, Jensen writes.
IIHS rated only two models as Not Recommended because they do not provide the correct seat belt fit. Those include the Safety 1st All-in-One, and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite, both manufactured by Dorel Juvenile Group, and have been on the Not Recommended list since 2009, when they were first evaluated, Jensen writes. Dorel also manufactures booster seats that have been rated Best Bets (five), Good Bets (1), and Check Fit (12), she notes.
Anne McCartt, IIHS’s senior vice president for research, said, “Booster manufacturers have risen to the Institute’s challenge to improve seat design, giving parents more choices than ever when shopping for a booster that will provide a good, safe fit for their children.” She advises parents not to be in a hurry to switch to a booster:
Kids should ride in harness-equipped child restraints in rear seats as long as possible, up to the height and weight limits of the seats. Many typically accommodate children up to about 65 pounds — and some go higher. When children outgrow child restraints, they should use boosters until adult belts fit properly, usually when a child reaches 4 feet 9 inches and 80 pounds.
You can see a complete list of IIHS’s 2012 booster evaluation results here:
And here is an IIHS video with booster seat fit tips: