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Booster seat laws reduce car accident fatalities in children

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for young children in the U.S. Booster seats have come a long way in reducing car accident injuries and fatalities in children but they are only effective if they are being used.

Research has shown that booster seats increase safety for children riding in vehicles yet many parents still do not regularly use them. A survey in 2008 found that only 48 percent of children ages 4 to 5 used booster seats and only 35 percent of children ages 6 to 7 used booster seats regularly.

All states are required to have mandatory booster seat laws for children under the age of 4. Many states, including New York, have mandatory booster seat laws for children ages 4 to 7. These state laws were found to reduce fatalities for young children involved in car accidents, according to a new study done at the Children's Hospital in Boston.

The study found that states with booster seat laws reduced the risk of severe injuries and fatalities for children ages 4 to 7 that were involved in car accidents. Researchers reported that the risk of fatality for children ages 4 to 5 was reduced by 11 percent in states with booster seat laws. States that had booster seat laws for children 6 years old and younger reduced the fatality risk by 23 percent and states that had booster seat laws for children 7 years old and younger reduced their risk by 25 percent.

The risk of children being in a fatal car accident did not reduce for children ages 4 to 7 in states that did not have these types of booster seat laws.

The researchers concluded that states with laws that require the use of booster seats for children ages 4 to 7 are extremely beneficial and help reduce the number of children killed in car accidents. They also recommended that all booster seat legislation should mandate that children be required to use booster seats until the age of 7 or until they reach the height of four feet nine inches for safe seat belt use.

Source: News-Medical, "Seat laws boost child car safety," Helen Albert, Nov. 8, 2012