Introduction. Booster seat use in the United States is extremely low among 4- to 8-year-old children, the group targeted for their use. However, more recent attention has been paid to the role of booster seats for children who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seat. In particular, several states are currently considering upgrades to their child restraint laws to include the use of booster seats for children over 4 years of age.
Objective. To examine recent trends in booster seat use among children involved in automobile crashes in 3 large regions of the United States.
Design. This study was performed as part of the Partners for Child Passenger Safety project, an ongoing, child-specific crash surveillance system that links insurance claims data to telephone survey and crash investigation data. All crashes occurring between December 1, 1998, and November 30, 2000, involving a child occupant between 2 to 8 years of age riding in a model year 1990 or newer vehicle reported to State Farm Insurance Companies from 15 states and Washington, DC, were eligible for this study. A probability sample of eligible crashes was selected for a telephone survey with the driver of the vehicle using a previously validated instrument. The study sample was weighted according to each subject’s probability of selection, with analyses conducted on the weighted sample.
Results. The weighted study sample consisted of 53 834 children between 2 to 8 years old, 11.5% of whom were using a booster seat at the time of the crash. Booster seat use peaked at age 3 and dropped dramatically after age 4. Over the period of study, booster seat use among 4- to 8-year-olds increased from 4% to 13%. Among 4-year-olds specifically, booster use increased from 14% to 34%. Among children using booster seats, approximately half used shield boosters and half used belt-positioning boosters.
Conclusion. Although overall booster seat use among the targeted population of 4- to 8-year-old children remains low, significant increases have been noted among specific age groups of children over the past 2 years. These data may be useful to pediatricians, legislators, and educators in efforts to target interventions designed to increase appropriate booster seat use in these children.
- Received June 25, 2001.
- Accepted October 1, 2001.
- American Academy of Pediatrics