Monday, June 30, 2008

Booster Seats

Neil Swidey wonders about booster seats as new rules are about to go into effect. Previously, the law required a safety seat for children under five years and 40 lbs. After July 1, children under eight or 4' 9" have to ride in a safety seat or on a booster seat.

There's a debate about the efficacy of booster seats compared to just buckling up. Economist Stephen Levitt, he of Freakonomics fame, argues that booster seats don't add any measurable increase in safety over seat belts, except in one category of minor injury. His findings differ markedly from research by a group at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.

Given the relative low cost of booster seats and booster seat use, I see no reason why not to insist on booster seats since there's credible data, like the Philadelphia researchers', of meaningful benefit.

I've always wondered about the effect of booster seats on seat belt use. Off-spring of NS&S are squarely in the booster demographic. When they are on their booster seats the seat belt falls more comfortably across their clavicle and chest. I'm guessing that the case for kids getting buckled and staying buckled is much easier when the seat belt is more comfortable.

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