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Directions in Highway Safety, Spring 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 2

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NHTSA Issues New Reports on Booster Seats

NHTSA has issued two new booster seat related-reports of interest. One is the first-ever probability-based survey of booster seat use in the United States. By observing children in vehicles, NHTSA found 41 percent of 4- to 7-year-olds were restrained in booster seats in 2006. The survey showed 33 percent of the young children wore seat belts and another 17 percent used safety seats. 9 percent were not wearing a seat belt.

Previous studies had estimated booster seat usage to be in the 21 to 37 percent range for children aged 4 to 7. NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason stated in an interview with the Associated Press, "Restraint use is much better than we expected it to be, and we can build off of that. Parents have an interest in keeping their children in their seats longer- they've started to get the message." NHTSA plans to upgrade federal booster seat standards and launch an educational campaign later this year.

Another report from NHTSA has concluded that booster seat laws do indeed increase booster seat use. Researchers studied usage in the state of Wisconsin both before and after a new booster seat law went into effect. They contrasted this data with similar data from the state of Michigan, which does not have a booster seat law. Baseline data was collected in Milwaukee and Detroit, similar cities in the same area of the country. The "pre" data was collected in May and the "post" was collected in September/October of 2006.

In Wisconsin, booster seat usage increased more than five percent from the period before the law went into effect. By contrast, Michigan saw less than a two percent usage gain. The researchers conclude that although the data is not necessarily reflective of all of Wisconsin, the state did show a significant change in the direction of booster seat usage after passage of the law.

More details about the new reports are posted online at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.