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Highway safety institute grades children's booster seats



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By Nadine WimmerSALT LAKE CITY -- New national crash tests show the booster seat in your car may not be the safest option for your child.

Booster seats are legally required in Utah, but there are no rules on how they're designed. Here's what parents should look for to Stay Safe.

On Tuesday, Janet Brooks, a child advocacy manager at Primary Children's Medical Center, and 5-year-old Gabe tested out different brands of booster seats for us.

Gabe liked the first one, but Brooks did not.

"You can see this [lap belt] is starting to come up into the abdominal tissue area of the body, and we really don't want that," Brooks explained.

In fact, that first booster seat was one of those not recommended in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new ratings.

The institute awarded only 25 percent of booster seats its "good" or "best" rating, giving accolades to the top nine.

But there are 11 seats it doesn't recommend, mostly because of improper fitting belts.

Gabe also tried out this backless booster with better fit.

"This car seat may work very well for him," Brooks said.

It may work fine for Gabe, but not for his 4-year-old, and much smaller, friend Caden.

"This actually fits Caden pretty well, but he does not weigh the recommended weight to be used in this car seat," Brooks said.

Our installer had another tip:

"If you don't have head restraints in your vehicle, or you have low seat backs, you don't want to put a child in a backless booster," Brooks said.

Bottom line: Even if your booster seat doesn't get high ratings, don't throw it out.

"Whether you have one that is on the recommended list or the not recommended list, please use it no matter what," Brooks said.

Children are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash if they're in booster seats rather than just seat belts.

If you would like to have your car seat or booster seat inspected for free, call 801-662-2277.

E-mail: dwimmer@ksl.com

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