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Posted on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

Parents often skip booster seats when carpooling, U-M study finds

By Cindy Heflin

Many parents who regularly put their children in booster seats often don’t insist on them when carpooling, a University of Michigan study finds.

Mayrend-Gabby in Booster Seat.JPG

A booster seat can save the life of a child in a crash, but many parents don't use the seats when carpooling, a University of Michigan study found.

Gabriella Mayrend strapped into her booster seat in the car 2010

Researchers at U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that more than 30 percent of parents don’t require booster seats when their child is riding with another parent. The study also found that 45 percent of parents don’t require their own children to use a booster seat when there are other children in the car who don’t have one.

“Practical barriers,” such as limited vehicle space and difficulty making arrangements with other drivers are likely to blame for the failure to use the seats, U-M researchers said.

Results of the study were published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Booster seats are recommended for children who have outgrown regular child car seats, typically around age 4.

Most state laws require children to use a booster seat, many until children are 8 years old, U-M said. National recommendations encourage the use of booster seats until a child reaches 57 inches, the average height of an 11-year-old.



Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

As a parent I don't get why anyone would consider even weighing the risk of not following the guidelines. I've always been very dillegent when it comes to making sure my kids are properly secured in the car. My MIL & husband had often seemed irritated that I was so concerned, but about 3 weeks ago I was almost home & starting to turn left onto our street with my 2 year old in the car when we were rear ended so hard that it rolled our car and we were trapped upside down. The paramedics, firemen and police on the scene were amazed that we walked away. One went so far as to tell me if my son's seat hadn't been installed properly & he wasn't buckled correctly just how bad it likely would have been. To think that not doing something that adds a minute, tops, to your routine is worth risking your child's life is incomprehensible to me...


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

I am a parent and my use of car seats and booster seats is not paranoia. I will use what could make my child safer. I've never been in a car accident so should I assume that it's unlikely and I don't need to take measures to be safe? That would not be reasonable. Yes more accidents happen close to home...but I am not paranoid that driving close to home will cause an accident. I do believe that no matter how long or short the drive, there is always potential for serious accidents and injuries and I always wear a seatbelt myself (in the front or the back) so I also do what I can to keep my children safe. I am not teaching them to be paranoid. I am teaching them to be responsible for their life and that of others they are responsible for in their own car. I am teaching them to not be afraid to go out and do things as long as they take the proper precautions. I am a loving concerned parent, not an ignorant parent. In my opinion it is ignorant to think that it's not worth it to go the extra mile to possibly save the life of a child.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

yes, because there is always a chance. you can never say there is zero chance of a car accident happening when you are driving. i'm sorry you disagree with my actions but i can tell you with a certainty that my children are probably always safer than yours and as i stated before, i will do whatever it takes to reasonably protect my children and to me that means using car seats according to the guidelines. i'm sorry you are ignorant to this idea of protecting children but obviously you will never understand it unless you and/or your children are in a serious accident or injured in one.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

You aren't teaching them though, you're making them do something that isn't based on a good risk assessment. You're saying any time there is a chance of something bad no matter what the odds you still do something. And you're doing so in weird normative ways, do you put helmets on them when they drive? Do you make them wear knee pads? What if someone strikes them with a bat while walking and they aren't wearing knee pads? While possible, it's also ludicrous and you offer them no distinction. I'm not saying you're bad for putting them in a car seat, it's the lack of analysis, the absolutism with which you proclaim these things. They aren't safe in a car seat and unsafe without one. They are slightly safer and in the case of a parking lot transition there is no difference (realistically). Please be very careful of your normative assumptions, they have a much larger tradeoff than you would ever imagine.

West of Main

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

I have an adult friend who barely reaches 4'9". I suppose she should ride in a booster seat too.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

She shouldn't drive, but take the bus. The short bus.

Jake C

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

@Scott, you're probably referring to this NYTimes article that claims there's not much difference in injury rates between kids age 2+ with and without booster seats: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;Even a quick look at the FARS data reveals a striking result: among children 2 and older, the death rate is no lower for those traveling in any kind of car seat than for those wearing seat belts. There are many reasons, of course, that this raw data might be misleading. Perhaps kids in car seats are, on average, in worse wrecks. Or maybe their parents drive smaller cars, which might provide less protection. But no matter what you control for in the FARS data, the results don't change. In recent crashes and old ones, in big vehicles and small, in one-car crashes and multiple-vehicle crashes, there is no evidence that car seats do a better job than seat belts in saving the lives of children older than 2. &quot;


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 11:23 p.m.

I wasn't, but this also is a very interesting article...thanks!

West of Main

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

You should've went on: &quot;The real answer to why child auto fatalities have been falling seems to be that more and more children are restrained in some way. Many of them happen to be restrained in car seats, since that is what the government mandates, but if the government instead mandated proper seat-belt use for children, they would likely do just as well / without the layers of expense, regulation and anxiety associated with car seats. &quot;


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

for the record, not against car seats, but not convinced they are necessary at all after the age of 3 or 4 compared to seat belts. Didn't they run some stats in a book (freakonomics) that disproved a lot of the fuss about booster seats?


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

People have no concept of risk assessment here and it is a much bigger deal than car seats. So many comments along the lines of &quot;if something happens 1 time then you must protect against it at all costs&quot;. These things are awful and you people should be embarrassed and ashamed. You walk around protecting yourself from flying aircraft parts? Do you worry about space monkeys crashing into you? I hope none of you are parents and if you are you grow up quickly and quit parading around this crap about &quot;safety&quot; and start being intelligent and rational about these decisions instead of fearful, paranoid and normative.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Parents should be ticketed and arrested immediately if they can't raise and protect a child correctly.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

Scott, bully? Really? No one forces anyone these days to have offspring. So, if you are going to go down that path then you need to take some responsibility for your children. That's not bullying, but logic.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Honestly I'm surprised you mention reading because your logic is a massive pile of fail......But good luck with the buzzwords and normative speech, hopefully one day enough people will start learning to stand up to bullies such as yourself....

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

No Scott, they should be held accountable! When you have a child and get ready to leave the hospital they actually won't let you go unless you have an infant size car seat and the baby firmly strapped into a 5 point harness! Simple logic and maybe reading a few books on raising a child shouldn't be that difficult!!!


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

no, they should be taught how, look at how many horrific comments were made on this board alone. These parents have no clue about risk assessment and are happily passing along their ignorance to their offspring. Look at obvious comments stats and his interpretation of them. Of course people crash more near their houses, because they drive more near them. We need to get off of this normative kick of what sounds good quickly because it's getting bad.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Booster seats are a pain to install and move from one car to another. Most parents do it for babies but for some kids who are 4 years old, do they really need it for short rides?


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

I'm sorry but your reasoning makes as little sense to me as mine does to you. Let's just agree to disagree. I certainly hope you are never in a serious accident on a short trip when your children are not properly restrained. I know no matter what my children will be safe.


Tue, Jan 31, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

How can you argue that it doesn't make a difference how far you drive? Of COURSE it makes a difference how far you drive. We're talking about risk assessment! It's not an absolute..... Do you fear car accidents when you're not driving?


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

Just to clarify: my point in posting the statistic about more accidents being close to home is to show that just a &quot;short ride&quot; can be deadly. Many people are thinking &quot;I'm just going up the street.&quot; That thinking makes no sense because you can get in a serious accident anywhere. Yes I am aware that it is understandable that more accidents happen near home because that's where more people are driving but that's exactly the point. Many people aren't recognizing that, instead they think &quot;it's just a short drive.&quot; The point is that it really doesn't matter how short or long the drive. Of course if I said this without some sort of statistics then people would say &quot;show me the study.&quot; Hence, the quote from a common sense study.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

xmo is correct and the rest of you need some serious self-evaluation.....


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

&quot;Progressive Insurance polled 11,000 of its policyholders who experienced accidents in 2001. They found that 52% were involved in accidents within five miles from there home and 69% were involved in accidents within ten miles from their home. Only 17% of those polled experienced accidents beyond twenty miles from his or her home&quot; I've heard and read this statistic many times and it makes complete sense. Here's one of many sources: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Also, booster seats are only for children that have outgrown their convertible seat (according to the manufacturer's weight and height limits, not when you think it's too difficult) which is usually between 40-50lbs or around 5 years of age. Infant seats are generally for children up to 20lbs and are only rear-facing. Convertible seats convert from rear-facing to forward-facing. They usually can hold a child rear-facing up to 30-35lbs and should be used rear-facing up to that point. After that they should be turned around to forward-facing. Rear-facing is the safest position for toddlers. The people that care about these guidelines are those that care about the safety of their children.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

I witnessed an suv lose control on a main road and slam into the side of a mini van that was waiting at a stop sign to leave the neighborhood... what if they said &quot;it's only a short trip.&quot;


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

@xmo, if you are able to predict that your vehicle will not sustain an accident for any particular short ride then, no, your kids do not need the seats during that ride. Otherwise, yes, of course they do.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Booster seats aren't attached to the car in any way until you buckle the kid into it. There is ZERO 'installation'. Pick it up and put in the other car. Stop being lazy. My kids get strapped into their respective car seats and booster seats regardless of distance. Even when we drive from the Target parking lot to the Meijer parking lot (shopping center at Carpenter/Ellsworth). Accidents don't care how far you are going.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

I think the number is actually much higher than stated and parents don't want to admit that they are not following guidelines. Whenever we insist our kids use a booster when carpooling I'm amazed that the other kids don't use them as well. Whenever we have those kids in our car we require a booster and have extras to use just in case. We don't care if other parents take shortcuts in protecting their kids but if they are driving in our car, we'll protect them. Our kids have never complained because they know what they need to do to be safe and we never compromise. I've never understood the guidelines either. Booster seats are used because people of a shorter height are not able to safely use an adult seat belt, it has nothing to do with age. Why would a small 11 year old be okay but a tall 8 year old not be okay. There needs to be one standard of safety...4'9&quot; regardless of age. I know that our kids will use a booster until they reach that height, it's a shame others don't.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

I agree that it should not matter the age. The safety come from the height of the child to have the seat belt fit the correctly.

John of Saline

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Man, how did we survive the '70s. &quot;Kids, get in the van!&quot;


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Vehicle deaths per 100M vehicle miles travelled in the US in 1970 was 4.74, in 2008 it was 1.25. Many people didn't survive the '70s. Care to ask their surviving families this same question?


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

I don't buy the &quot;not enough room&quot; excuse for booster seats...they don't take up that much space. Some parents are just lazy. Another thing I've seen is people following the &quot;ride rear-facing as long as possible&quot; suggestion but not strapping their kids in right because their kid likes to be able to turn around and look out the front window. A lot of good that does. You might as well just turn them around.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

I don't buy the not enough room excuse either. We had a rear faceing car seat and two booster seats in the back of our car... it was tight, but everyone was correctly and safely seated.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Yikes! Come on, parents, your kids rely on you to keep them safe.

West of Main

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

Safety is important, of course, but who can imagine an eleven year old in a booster seat?

Jake C

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

If your 11-year old is well under 5 feet tall, then it might be best for them to continue to ride in a booster seat. This is because seat belts are designed to provide the best protection for full-size adults, not children who can be any size. &quot;This is off of the Michigan State Police website: &quot;Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.&quot;&quot;


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

My son will be 11 in two months. He uses a booster seat on every ride, unless I know for certain that the adult seat belt fits him correctly in the vehicle he'll be riding in. Use the guidelines of the &quot;five-step test&quot; to assess seat belt fit for your child. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>