Booster cushions are a popular option for children aged between four and 12, but there’s strong evidence that high-backed booster seats are much safer.
“Many parents opt for a simple booster cushion to help lift their child and ensure the vehicle seatbelt sits correctly on the bony parts of their bodies,” explains Mark Bennett of car seat manufacturer Britax. “However, the seatbelt can often get twisted, sit too high, or be fitted around the seat instead of the child.
Another big concern is the shortage of protection offered by booster cushions, even when they are properly fitted. “They offer no head or side impact protection, putting children at risk of severe neck injuries,” says Bennett.
In an effort to persuade parents of the advantages of highback booster seats, Britax has released footage (see below) from a crash test it carried out at its UK test facility.
The test compares the safety performance of a booster cushion and a highback booster seat in the event of a frontal collision. And while the upper belt is kept in place on the highback seat thanks to the upper belt guide, the dummy on the booster cushion slips free of the upper belt and hits its head on the side of the vehicle.
The release of the footage was welcomed by Good Egg Safety, which provides safety advice for families in the UK. CEO Jan James said: “What makes this so poignant is the fact that when using these, parents are trying to protect their children to ensure a better fit of seat belt, not realising that they are still in significant danger in an impact.
“The nerves in the neck don’t stretch well and a collision which throws the head forward with the force demonstrated could potentially result in catastrophic injuries to a child.”
From December 2016, new booster cushions will be banned, but it will still be legal to sell products that were on sale before the change in the law.
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