When you think about properly restraining a child in the car, you probably picture an infant or toddler buckled into a car seat. But did you know that children up to age 12 also are advised to us special age-appropriate restraints? Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children—so kids need restraint systems like car seats, belt positioning booster seats, or other belt positioning devices that are FMVSS 213 approved to ride safely in a car.
A number of major medical and safety organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Center for Disease Control, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, recommend that older children up to 57 inches ride in a car child restraint system (CRS) such as a booster seat or other belt positioning devices, like ClypX. At the height of 57 inches is when an adult-sized seat belt alone can safely protect a passenger in a car accident, and most kids don’t grow to 57 inches before they turn 12. Unfortunately, proper child restraint systems aren’t always used for older children, for a variety of reasons. Data shows that by age 8, about 80% of kids are not properly restrained, and 90% of children ages 8-12 are also not properly restrained.
Luckily, ClypX offers a simple solution.
Older Children Aren’t Properly Restrained
Despite recommendations, many parents stop using a CRS before their children are big enough to safely use a seat belt alone. In the chart below, data from the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) compares CRS usage rates in the United States in 1991 to rates in 2007. While things have improved since 1999, we still have a long way to go:
The data shows that in both 1999 and 2007, almost all infants and toddlers were using proper restraint system. But at about the age of four—which is when children usually grow out of their five-point harness car seats—the number of children properly restrained gradually declines. CRS use for kids aged 4 to 8 increased from 15% in 1999 to 63% in 2007, but that still left 37% of children not riding in an age-appropriate restraint systems.
Additionally, the 2015 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS), conducted by the NHTSA, found that booster seat use rates haven’t changed much since 2007. This study reports that only 9.1% of kids aged 8 to 12 rode safely in booster seats. The data also shows that 73.9% of children in this age group wear adult seat belts alone, leaving 15.6% completely unrestrained.
As in the CHOP study (in the graph above), the NSUBS shows that the older children get, the less likely they are to be using a CRS: in 2015, 37.4% (almost same percentage as in 2007) of children ages 4 to 7 were not properly restrained, 25.8% of them were in seat belts alone, and 11.6% were completely unrestrained. In the 6 to 7 age group, 40.6% were in seat belts alone and 13.3% were unrestrained—which is even lower than CRS use in 2007.
Why Parents Stop Using the Booster Seat Too Early
As a parent, your number one priority is the safety and health of your child. Caring parents don’t purposely neglect the safety of their older children when they stop using child restraint systems. There are a variety of reasons why families may stop using booster seats, including:
- Lack of education. Some parents simply aren’t aware of the recommendations and assume that a seat belt alone offers proper protection for children, especially as they become pre-teens.
- Booster seats are cumbersome. They can be difficult to install, expensive to buy for every family vehicle, and awkward to transport on a family vacation. Many families simply get tired of dealing with clunky booster seats and allow their children to use seat belts alone.
- Children resist booster seats. As children get older, they might protest anything that resembles a car seat and refuse to use their booster seats. They may feel awkward and childish in one, and they might not want their friends to see them climbing into a booster seat at school pickup. Arguments and resistance can wear down even the most well-intending parent.
- Parents believe the child has outgrown the seat. As children get taller, parents might assume the child no longer fits and would be more comfortable in a seat belt alone.
- Increased use of ride sharing. Who wants to carry a booster seat while traveling via taxi or ride sharing, whether on vacation or in everyday city travel? Some families stop using the booster seat in these situations because is almost impossible to carry around while out and about.
Despite attempts to educate parents on proper CRS for children ages 4 and above, the use of appropriate restraints for older children has not improved in the last decade—in fact, it has decreased since 2013, according to 2015 NSUBS data. It seems that education and raised awareness can only do so much to overcome the many barriers to using booster seats. Keeping our children safe while riding in cars requires a new approach.
Consequences of Improper Restraints
Sadly, not using age-appropriate car restraint systems can have devastating consequences. In a motor vehicle accident, children who aren’t riding in age appropriate restraint systems are at greater risk for serious injury and death.
In 2016, 44% of child fatalities under 19 years old in motor vehicle crashes (MVC) we’re not restrained. Out of the child deaths, 48% were teens, 43% were kids ages 9-13, and 26% were under 9 years old. This, and previous mentioned data, clearly shows that our kids do not always restrain themselves when riding in cars. This is why it is important and beneficial to teach children a habit of buckling up themselves. ClypX makes this process easier because once installed, your child can buckle and unbuckle him or herself from it without any help!
A Better Solution
It’s time to change the numbers with a new, more practical approach to keeping kids safe in the car. It’s time for booster seat and car seat alternative that is safe, simple, small, portable, kid-friendly, will fit easily in any car—and teach a lifelong habit of buckling up.
It’s time for ClypX.
Make sure your child is safer on the roads with the ClypX Child Restraint System.
Li, H. R., Pickrell, T. M., & KC, S. (2016, September). The 2015 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (Report No. DOT HS 812 309). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Partners for Child Passenger Safety Fact and Trend Report September 2008
Eby DW, Bingham CR, Vivoda JM, Raghunathan T. Use of booster seats by Michigan children 4–8 years of age. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2005;37:1153–1161. [PubMed]
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NCSA Data Resource Website. Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (FARS). Washington, D.C. Accessed: December 2017 and March 15, 2018.