1998 SURVEY RESULTS

CHAPTER 5

BOOSTER SEAT ISSUES

 

Awareness Of Booster Seats

Children's use of restraint systems that don't properly fit them can lead to injuries. Booster seats are intended to bridge the gap between the time the child outgrows a front facing toddler seat to the time when the seat belt properly fits the child. Safety professionals recommend that children use booster seats from about 40 to 80 pounds. Yet the data presented in Chapters 3 and 4 show these children often using seat belts instead. One question is whether people are aware of booster seats. Those considered most likely to have heard of them would be the parent/caregiver group. Yet while 76% said they were aware of booster seats, 21% had not heard of them and 3% were unsure. Among those aware of booster seats, 53% said they had used them with their child(ren).

Figure 61  

Figure 61. Knowledge And Use Of Booster Seats: Parent/Caregiver Group

Qx: Before today, had you ever seen or heard of a type of car seat called a booster seat?
Qx: Have you ever used a booster seat when driving with your (child/children)?
Base: Parents/caregivers as defined on page 28
Unweighted N's listed above.

 

The most frequent age at which parents/caregivers started using booster seats with their child(ren) was age three (40%). However, more than one-fourth (28%) of parents/caregivers who had used booster seats said they had begun using them before the child reached that age.

Figure 62  

Figure 62. Age First Used Booster Seat

Qx: At what age did you begin using a booster seat for your children?
Base: Parents/caregivers who said they had used a booster seat when driving their children.
Unweighted N=321

 

Concerns About The Safety Of Booster Seats

During pre-testing of the questionnaire, subjects participating in the testing expressed concern about the safety of booster seats. As a consequence, the 1998 survey added a new question asking if the respondent had any concerns about the safety of booster seats. This question was asked only of parents/caregivers who had said they were aware of booster seats. Among the 76% of parents/caregivers who had seen or heard of booster seats, almost one-third (30%) had concerns about their safety and another 7% were unsure.

Figure 63  

Figure 63. Have Concerns About The Safety Of Booster Seats

Qx: Before today, had you ever seen or heard of a type of car seat called a booster seat?
Qx: Do you have any concerns about the safety of booster seats?
Base: Parents/caregivers as defined on page 28
Unweighted N's listed above.

 

When asked what concerns they had about the safety of booster seats, the parents/caregivers criticized them as loose fitting and unstable systems that would not adequately restrain the child in a crash. More than half (52%) complained that the restraints were inadequate to hold the child while 30% expressed anxiety that the seat was not securely attached and was unstable. 

TABLE 6
Concerns About Booster Seats

Qx: What are those concerns (about the safety of booster seats)?
Base: Parents/caregivers who said they had concerns about the safety of booster seats.
Unweighted N=184

Concern
Percent
Security of Attachment (Net)

Seat isn't securely attached to car's seat/not stable/seat slides/shifts/rocks/ 
moves around 

Seat doesn't have it's own straps/attached by using seat belt straps 

Straps can't secure seat tightly enough 

Any other security of attachment mentions

30%

17% 

8% 

6% 

1%

Inadequate Restraint (Net)

No shoulder straps/restraints 

Inadequate restraint/does not fully restrain child (unspecified) 

Easy for child to climb/wiggle/escape out of seat 

Child/infant could slip/slide out/nothing to keep infant from sliding out of seat 

Child could be ejected/thrown/fly out of seat in a sudden stop 

All other inadequate restraint capability mentions

52%

17% 

13% 

10% 

9% 

6% 

2%

Safety concerns/don't know how safe they are (unspecified)
12%
How safe they would be in an accident
9%
How safe they are compared to regular infant/child safety seats/
might not be as secure as regular infant seats
8%
My child is too young/small to use it.
2%
Know of a child who was injured
Any other miscellaneous mentions
9%
No answer/don't know/refused
5%

*Less than 0.5% Total exceeds 100% due to multiple responses.

 

In total, 24% of parents/caregivers either said they were not aware of booster seats or else were unsure if they had seen or heard about them (see page 76). Almost one-fourth of parents/ caregivers (23%) had heard of booster seats and had concerns about them (i.e., 30% of the 76% who were aware of booster seats). Six percent were aware of booster seats, but unsure whether they had concerns about their safety. Fewer than half of all parents/caregivers (48%) could say that they were aware of booster seats, and had no concerns about their safety.

Figure 64  

Figure 64. Awareness And Concerns About Booster Seats

Qx: Before today, had you ever seen or heard of a type of car seat called a booster seat?
Qx: Do you have any concerns about the safety of booster seats?
Base: Parents/caregivers as defined on page 28
Unweighted N=754

 

Expected Restraint System After Outgrowing Current Seat

If the designated child in the survey at least on occasion rode in a child safety seat, then the interviewers asked the respondents if they expected the child to use “a different type of car seat, a seat belt, or something else” after outgrowing the current seat. In general, children in rear facing seats were expected to move on to other safety seats, although 14% expected the child to use seat belts. Expectations became more varied with front facing safety seats as slightly more than half (55%) said that the child would use a different seat or booster seat while 43% either answered that the child would graduate to seat belts or else that they did not know what would happen.

Figure 65  

Figure 65. Expected Restraint System For Child After Outgrowing Current Seat By Type Of Seat

Qx: When your (AGE) outgrows his/her current child car seat, do you expect him/her to use a different type of car seat, a seat belt, or something else?
Base: Child at least on occasion rides in a child car seat.
Unweighted N's listed above.

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