Piper is 7 years old. She goes to school, plays with dolls, and loves to visit friends. Piper’s career goal is to take over the world through “flower power”. When Piper travels, she sits in a booster seat that makes her seat belt fit perfectly. In a crash, Piper’s seat belt will keep her in the car and distribute crash forces across the strongest parts of her body. Piper’s mom makes sure she travels safely on every trip, so that Piper can confidently pursue her plans for world dominion.
Unfortunately, Piper and her mom are the exception. Many children in elementary school need to sit in booster seats but don’t. Following the law is not enough, especially for children in Florida. Only in Florida can a 4-year-old child legally use an adult seat belt.
In a crash, poor seat belt fit can lead to serious internal injury or even death. Children who have outgrown their 5 point harness car seat by weight or height should use a booster seat until they reach approximately 4’9”, typically between the ages of 8-12. Many parents/caregivers skip this very important step and start using a seat belt much too soon, never realizing the danger in which they’re putting their child.
A booster seat “boosts” a child up for proper placement of the lap and shoulder belt on the lower hips/upper thighs and shoulder/collar bone. Without a booster, seat belts often cross over a child’s soft stomach and neck, which can lead to debilitating injuries such as a ruptured spleen, torn intestines, internal bleeding, or paralysis.
Booster seats keep children out of the hospital, saving heartache, worry and medical expenses. A $ 15 booster seat for a child age 4-7 yields an average savings of $ 2,500 per child. “Big kids” like Piper deserve to be kept safe when they travel, and booster seats help make that happen. Is your child riding safely in the car?
For more information or assistance with child passenger safety please contact Ginny Hinton at the Santa Rosa County UF/IFAS Extension Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-623-3868.
(NHTSA & Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS), **(Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (2010 update, ‘Injury Prevention: What works?’ Special Thanks to Tamyne Maxson, Child Passenger Safety Community Coordinator, St. Joseph’s Child Advocacy Center, Tampa, FL