I always make my 4-year-old ride in a booster chair, mostly so I don’t have to listen to wails of, “I can’t see anything!” from the back seat. (And because I figure it’s safer, of course.) It turns out, my instincts have been proven correct. The widespread use of booster seats has resulted in “an 18% decrease in the number of traffic injuries among children ages 4 through 6,” MedPage Today reports.
A group of scientists studied data related to the use of booster seats following the passage of a 2005 New York State law requiring “upgraded restraints” for children in that age bracket. Dr. Kainan Sun published the results in the online version of Pediatrics. According to Sun and his colleagues, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 4 through 6,” so it’s very important to follow the child safety recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and your local laws.
I’m a New York State resident, and I was (until today) under the impression that children over age 4 were not legally required to wear anything but a seat belt in the back seat. According to this 2007 chart by saferoads.org, 38 states and the District of Columbia have booster seat laws, but safety requirements are apt to change. Texas adopted a booster seat law in 2009, with a grace period extending through June 1, 2010, and Minnestoa updated its child restraint laws last year as well. If you’re unsure about the age and/or weight requirements for booster seats in your area, check in with your local police department. Safety first, I always say!