If you think your kid is big enough to go without a car seat, you might be wrong, a new video produced by Eastern Virginia Medical School reveals. Children should stay in their booster seats until they’re at least 4 feet 9 inches, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But as this video demonstrates, many parents don’t take the recommendation seriously enough.
The video may feature actors, but its takeaways are very real. While there are booster seat safety recommendations for older kids that concern children’s heights and weights, parents often assume their kids are too old for a booster seat long before they’ve outgrown these life-saving apparatuses. “Many parents think as their child is in the back seat with an adult seat belt, that their kid is safe,” says Phillip Thomas, one of the doctors interviewed in the clip.
“And it’s just not the case.”
Beyond AAP’s height recommendation, passenger safety guidelines are usually handled on a state and local level. New York State recommends that children stay in boosters until they’re they’re at least 8 years old, or 57 inches tall. “Far too often, you see many kids come in with internal organ damage, damage to the large vessels,” Thomas adds, noting that the failure to use a booster can put a child’s neck, spinal column, and internal organs at risk. “All due to improper use of adult safety belts in kids that should have otherwise been in a booster seat.
Eastern Virginia Medical School encourages parents to consult with sites such as Car Seat Safety Now and Safety Belt Fit Test—resources that can help families figure out whether their kids really are too big for their booster seats. Meanwhile, the video notes that a 30 mph crash can inflict as much damage on a poorly-secured child as falling out a third-story window.
That’s one very good reason to double check before ditching your booster seat.