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Booster seats can save lives when properly used. These devices elevate children to the proper height of seat belts so that if they are in an accident, they will be better protected by the seat belt. Booster seats lift the child to the height necessary where the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts restrain him or her.

Legal Requirements

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children who outgrow their car seats use a booster seat until the child reaches the following metrics:

  • At least eight years old
  • At least 4 feet and 9 inches
  • At least 80 pounds

An injury lawyer can explain that booster seats should meet the following criteria:

Placement

The booster seat should be flat against the seat so that it does not tip over. Additionally, the booster seat should be placed in the center of the back seat. This position best protects the child from a side impact crash. The ideal position of the seat depends on the contours of the backseat and the types of seat belts the vehicle has installed.

Parents can ensure that the seat will work properly by testing out the booster seat with their child before making the purchase. There are also periodic car seat clinics that law enforcement agencies sponsor to test installed car seats.

Lap Belt

The lap belt should be situated so that it crosses the child’s hips and touches the top of his or her thighs. The lap belt should not be used to anchor the booster seat.

Shoulder Belt

The shoulder belt must go across the shoulder and not on the neck to avoid choking. It also should not be placed on the child’s arm or tucked around his or her back as these placements can prevent the seat belt from properly restraining the child in the event of a car accident. The proper placement of the shoulder belt is over the child’s chest.

Harness

A harness is not typically required for children over 30 pounds. However, most children should continue to use the harness feature until they reach at least 40 pounds, especially when the child is very active or can get out of his or her seat. The exception to this principle is if the child is tall and slender and has outgrown the harness but is still under 40 pounds.