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New Research Finds Kids Should Stay in a Booster Seat Until Age 12

In light of new crash test research, researchers now recommend leaving children in booster seats until age twelve. According to The Daily Mail, trauma experts say the guidelines for child car restraint "are putting kids at risk of life-threatening injuries."

The group behind the research, the RACV, recommends that parents leave their children in booster seats until age twelve or 145 centimeters (approximately 4 foot, 9 inches), a height “most children reach at 10-12 years old." The accompanying footage shows a crash test dummy in an adult seat belt "lurching forward as its body folds in two after a car going just 56 Kilometers an hour [35 miles per hour] impacted with another vehicle."

Professor Warwick Teague, a trauma specialist supervisor from Australia, told 7 News that kids “are now at significant risk of injury because the seat belt is not going to fit them correctly.” In his region of Australia, the laws only require kids to stay in booster seats until age seven, just like in many U.S. states, but experts say this is too young. As illustrated in the following video, when seat belts do not fit kids properly, the belt “will rise up across the neck, and that produces potentially life threatening injuries to the spine and the ligaments around the spine,” according to professor Teague.

In the United States, laws regarding booster seats and other child restraints can vary from state to state. The Governors Highway Safety Association explains: “All states and territories require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria, but requirements vary based on age, weight, and height.” Their website allows you look up laws specific to your state, however, just meeting these minimum requirements may not be doing all that your children need to keep them as safe as possible in the car.

Safe Kids Worldwide reports that “road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional deaths to children in the United States.” Furthermore, “Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent”—a number large enough to warrant all parents attention when it is time to buckle in our kids.

The scariest number in the world of car seat safety has nothing to do with which brand of car seat is the safest, as many new parents assume. The real danger comes when we use car seats incorrectly. “Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly”—an astounding number.

To see how your car seat installation skills measure up, use this handy Car Seat Checkup Checklist to be sure you have installed your car seat correctly and are buckling in your child correctly every time. If you want an expert to look over your work, find a car seat fitting event near you by clicking here.