This Year’s (2009) IIHS Booster Seat Evaluation

The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety has made an evaluation for this year’s round of booster seats. This is very good for you parents with children from 4-8 years old. Why you might ask? They may have grown out of their car seat but that does not necessarily mean they are ready to go to a straight seat belt.

While seatbelt work great for full-grown adults they are not meant for anyone under 4’ 9” and your 4 year probably isn’t quite there yet. So what do you do then? Use a booster seat. Now if you are looking to give your kid the best safety possible, which I’m guessing you are because you are buying a booster seat in the first place and reading this article, You need to search carefully for the proper booster seat for your child. Not all of them do quite as good of a job as the manufacturers would like you to think they do.

You might say well that’s easy, I’ll just look for the most expensive or a name brand booster seat. Sorry, to tell you that won’t work either. The best rated booster seats range from anywhere from $20-$250 and guess what, so do the booster seats that were given a bad rating. So if price and looks don’t tell you how good a booster seat is, how do you pick a good one. This article will tell you how to pick a booster seat that works best for your child and also show you some of the best rated booster seats.

What a Booster Seat Should Do

There are two main things that you need to look for when you are looking for a booster seat for your child.

First you need to see where the lap belt sits you want it to sit flat across the child’s upper thighs, there is a strong bone structure here and the belt is less likely to do damage. What you don’t want is for the lap belt to sit on the soft abdominal area. This is far more likely to do damage in the case of an accident.

The second thing you need to look at is where the shoulder strap sits. The ideal postision for the shoulder strap is across the middle of the shoulder. Too high or too low on the shoulder can be more dangerous and is also less comfortable for the child.

Highbacks vs. Backless – Which is safest?

There are two main styles of booster seats. The highback and the backless. Neither is recommended over the other, but each have there benefits. Backless tend to postion the lap belt better. Highback tend to give a better shoulder strap fit in all vehicle, whereas backless at times need a clip to position the shoulder belt properly. Both highbacks and backless are among the booster seats rated best bets (or safest booster seats) as well as those evaluated as not recommended.

How it is Tested

For testing, a test dummy representing the size of an average 6 year old is used. 4 different conditions were used and 4 measurements were taken on the shoulder strap and 4 measurements were taken on the lap belt. Then an overall rating was given based on the scores for the lap belt and shoulder strap.

It good to note that these results are based on what booster seats work best for an average sized 6 year old child in a small range of vehicles. These test results are meant to give a good idea of what booster seats might work best for your child, but the best way to choose a booster seat is to see how it fits your child.

The Results

Best Bets

Britax Frontier, Clek Oobr, Combi Dakota backless with clip, Cosco Juvenile Pronto, Eddie Bauer Auto Booster, Evenflo Big Kid Amp backless with clip, Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR, Recaro Vivo, Recaro Young Sport.

Good Bets
Britax Parkway SG, Combi Kobuk backless with clip, Evenflo Symphony 65, Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat Step 3 (Sachi), Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat Step 3 (Wander), Maxi-Cosi Rodi.

NOT RECOMMENDED by the IIHS

Alpha Omega, Alpha Omega Elite, Alpha Omega Luxe Echelon, Combi Kobuk, Eddie Bauer Deluxe, Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1, Evenflo Express, Evenflo Sightseer, Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe backless with clip, Safety 1st All-in-One, Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite.

To see more information on 2009 booster seat evaluations you can go to IIHS.org.