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The Atlanta parent’s guide to preventing injury with booster seats

Booster seats or belt-positioning booster seats are safety seats that position the vehicles lap belt so it fits properly on a child.
 
The seat belt in your car is designed for an adult. When a child between the ages of four and ten uses a car seat belt without a booster seat, they are not safely restrained. There are two main problems that prevent children from safely using car seat belts.
 
1.    The vehicle seat is too big.
2.    The child’s body is too small.
 
The shoulder belt is anchored so high that instead of crossing the child’s chest and resting between the neck and shoulder, the seat belt crosses only a small part of the chest and rests against the neck. The child can’t sit comfortably and slouches leaving a gap between her back and the back of the seat. This causes the lap belt to move up on the abdomen. In a Georgia car crash, the child may slip out from under the seat belt or they may suffer internal injuries as the seat belt places stress against the stomach, bladder, liver, and other internal organs.
 
Slouching also leaves a slack area that may allow the child’s head and body to move to far forward in a crash.  Or, the child may remove the uncomfortable shoulder strap which can cause a jackknife movement in an accident. This can cause ejection or serious head and spinal cord injuries.
 
When children don’t use a booster seat they suffer more serious injuries:
 
•    Head injuries (44%)
•    Lower extremity injuries (18%)
•    Thoracic injuries (17%)
•    Pelvic/abdominal injuries (12%)
 
A booster seat prevents these types of injuries in three ways. It gives the child a comfortable seating area which prevents slouching. The booster seat positions the lap belt so it holds the child across the legs rather than the abdomen. And, finally, if there is a crash, the booster seat increases the lap belt angle so the restraining force is directed away from the abdomen which prevents internal injuries.
 
Children must be at least 40 pounds and about four years old to ride in a booster seat.  Until then, your child is safest in a 5-point harness.  Many booster seats have a five point harness that later converts to a seat-belt positioning system.
 
Your child is safe to ride in a booster seat if you can answer yes to all of the following questions.
 
•    Is there both a shoulder and lap belt in the seat where your child sits?
•    Does your child weigh at least 40 pounds?
•    Is your child three to four years old?
•    Can your child sit still for the entire trip without leaning forward or sitting on her knees?
 
Georgia car seat law requires that children under 4'9", under 80 pounds and less than age 8 be restrained in a booster seat.  However, even at age 8, your child may not be ready to use an adult seat belt.  If you answer no to any of the following questions, your child should remain in a booster seat.
 
•    Does your child sit with her back all the way against the auto seat?
•    Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
•    Does the lap belt cross your child’s shoulder between the neck and arm?
•    Is the lap belt as low as possible crossing at the thighs instead of the abdomen?
•    Can your child stay seated like this for the entire car trip?
 
As an Atlanta car crash attorney, Shane Smith sees too many injured children.  Buckling up your child in an appropriate child safety seat is the best way to prevent car accident injury. To learn more about child safety seats, click here.
 
If you or your child has been injured in an Atlanta car wreck, The Law Offices of Shane Smith would like to help you.  Contact our office at 770-HURT-999 to learn more about your right to insurance compensation for your injuries, pain and other losses.
 
When you call, request our free book “10 mistakes That Can Ruin Your Georgia Wreck Case.”


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia