Big kids still need boosters until they are how “big” exactly?
Our oldest son is 8 1/2 years old. In most states he can legally ride in a car without a car seat.
In Colorado, where we live, based on age alone he can legally ride in just a seat belt. Except Colorado law actually adds the caveat that he be “properly restrained with a safety belt or child restraint system.”
Proper use of a safety belt means the shoulder belt, if present, crosses mid shoulder and mid chest and the lap belt crosses the hips, touching the thighs.
When proper use is taken into consideration he cannot legally ride with just a seat belt. At 4’5″ (53″) he’s close to the average seat belt-fit height of 4’9″. And in our particular car and vehicle seat belt, he’s actually close to a proper fit …. but close doesn’t cut it for keeping my kids safe in the car everyday.
(Seat belts fit different in every car that is why 4’9″ is considered the magic number on average, you really have to do the 5-step seat belt fit test in your particular car(s) before making the transition to just a vehicle seat belt.)
And while we all make our own parenting decisions, I wish the laws were more clear and the law enforcement enforced those clear laws for big kids.
As a CPS tech I see all kinds of car safety mistakes parents make. (It’s like when you want a new red car and you start seeing red cars everywhere. I’m trained and want kids to ride safe and I see mistakes, a lot.)
As a society we’ve certainly come a long way in keeping our babies and young children safe in child restraints. We still have a ways to go especially with our 8 to 14-year-old big kids.
I see it all the time. Bigger kids getting in cars where there’s obviously no booster. Big kids still need something to help keep the seat belt in proper position like a booster seat or RideSafer vest.
It’s especially scary when they climb into the front seat. Yikes!
The study by Safe Kids Worldwide and GM Foundation that I wrote about previously puts some perspective on this. The majority of parents just don’t know.
We have to spread the word further. This is why I love a post I found on Car Seats for the Littles entitled, “Boosters Are For (Very) Big Kids.” It’s very well written and illustrated. I’m not going to rewrite it; I’ll just point you to it.
Whether a RideSafer vest or a booster seat, big kids still need a seat belt positioning device until they can be properly restrained by just the vehicle seat belt.
What do you think, is your big kid still using a seat belt positioner? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2017 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
This post was originally published October 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.