The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released new booster seat ratings.… (PRNewsFoto/Britax )
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its latest evaluations of booster seats. Rejoice, bargain hunters: among the list of 31 "best bets" the group identified are models that cost as little as $15.
Booster seats are for kids who've outgrown car seats but aren't big enough for car seat belts to fit correctly -- that is, children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches and weigh less than 80 pounds, the IIHS says. In California, a just-signed law requires children under 8 years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall to use booster seats.
The IIHS "best bets" aren't crash-tested, but they have been evaluated to assure that they position a typical4- to 8-year-old so that lap and shoulder belts, which are sized for adults, fit correctly and will protect a child during a crash. That means the lap belt should lie flat and on top of a child's upper thighs -- not across the abdomen. Shoulder belts should extend across the middle of a child's shoulder -- not across the neck.
Seats designated as "best bets" worked well in most minivans, SUVs and cars, the organization said. It praised Harmony Juvenile Products as "a standout" among manufacturers. All five seats the company makes were rated "best bets."
Five seats earned a rating of "good bet", which means they provide "acceptable belt fit" in most vehicles. Six seats did not position children correctly. The IIHS recommends avoiding those models, which include the Evenflo Chase, the Evenflo Express, the Evenflo Generations 65, the Evenflo Sightseer, the Safety 1st All-in-One and the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite. In all, the IIHS checked out 62 models. Twenty-one showed up twice in the lists because they can be used in highback or backless modes, and were thus evaluated twice.
The institute warned consumers to pay close attention to model numbers and manufacture dates when using the ratings to choose a booster seat. Often, different seats will have similar names.
Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website to see the full rankings, as well as pictures of correct seat belt placement for kids.