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1/16/2014 - Booster seats excel in safety testing

Child safety remains a serious issue on today's streets.

There's some good news to report for parents searching for a quality booster seat for their child, as a substantial number of the newest car chairs have been awarded the coveted "Best Bets" distinction by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Of the 31 new models that the Arlington, Va.-based automotive safety organization analyzed, 19 were bestowed with the its top honor, including models like the Britax Parkway SG, Evenflo Amp, Ferrari Beline SP, Graco Affis and Harmony Transit Deluxe.

Anne McCartt, senior vice president of research at IIHS, indicated that parents shouldn't have any trouble finding a booster seat that they can rest assured meets the appropriate safety qualifications, especially compared to last year, when fewer "Best Bet" titles were distributed.

"At the same time, consumers should continue to consult our ratings before buying because name brand, price and style don't always equate with proper lap and shoulder belt fit," said McCartt.

For a booster seat to be given the "Best Bet" moniker, it has to be able to be installed in almost 100% of automotive vehicles on the market today and also fit a typical 4-to-8-year-old so that the belt is positioned properly, ideally across the middle of the chest and the upper thighs.

The child safety seat industry has come a long way since the IIHS initially performed these types of assessments. In 2008, just 10 of the 41 models tested received top honors. Five years later, 58 were awarded with the "Best Bet" title of the 100-plus examined.

Nonetheless, child safety remains a serious issue on today's streets. Among auto insurance claims filed due to an accident in 2011, more than one-third of children killed were either not in a safety seat or buckled up at the time of the crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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