In a recent study, researchers found that almost 60 percent of new booster seats earned top ratings. Experts started rating these seats five years prior to that, and they did this because they found that most products were not fitting safety belts consistently. Based on how well they measure up during tests, these seats can be classified as a Good Bet or a Best Bet. If the seats measure poorly, their ratings indicate they are not recommended or that fitting should be checked. Researchers use a three-point lap and shoulder belt setup to test a dummy sitting in a booster seat. They simulate four separate conditions that focus on fit but not crash tests.
Since there are more booster seats available now than ever before, experts say that people should have an easier time finding top-rated options. They also stress the importance of avoiding running out and buying a new model simply because it is popular or has a commercial that makes it sound good. It is always important to know if there are fitting issues and whether it has been tested and named as a Best Bet or a Good Bet.
Researchers said they came up with nearly 60 booster seats that were rated as Best Bets, and only five were rated as Good Bets in 2013. As new models are released, they are evaluated to determine a rating. Any boosters that have designs carrying over to the next year will keep their ratings until the model is discontinued. If a booster seat can be used as both a backless and high-back seat, it will receive a separate rating for each purpose. For the purpose of providing accurate ratings, experts consider these types of models as two separate seats. This means they will appear twice on a list, so it is important to be aware of both ratings when considering such options.
Best Bet seats will position belts correctly in nearly any vehicle on an average child between the ages of four and eight. If a seat is a Good Bet, it will have an acceptable belt fit in the majority of vehicles. When a belt fits correctly, this means the belt fits across the middle of the shoulder snugly and lies flat across the lap. Of the seat designs released in 2013, there are 11 that require fitting checks. This means that the belt may work great in some vehicles for some children, but it is necessary to test it in order to find out. It is important to remember that belt fit can be affected by the size of the child and the vehicle’s safety design.
In 2008, experts released their first set of ratings. At that time, a little over 20 percent of the models on the market earned a Best Bet rating. There were 13 that were not recommended at that time, and there were only two seats on that list later on in 2013. The majority of seats today are manufactured and designed well enough that they earn a Best Bet category rating. This is because companies take the testing criteria and safety seriously. To learn more about safety ratings for booster seats or to find a list of the current ratings, discuss concerns with an agent.