If you had kids prior to 2005, you may remember a time when booster seats were optional. With the change in car seat regulations and the addition of the booster seat for children ages 4-8 years old/40-80lbs, it is estimated that your child’s risk of injury in an accident is reduced by 59% versus just using a seat belt alone. Despite the increased safety, some research has shown that 30-50% of people misuse booster seats, with premature graduation from the booster seat being the number one type of misuse.
Don’t rush your child from their booster seat!
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act states that children must be in a booster seat until:
- they are over the age of eight
- they weigh more than 80lbs/36kg
- they are more than 145cm/4ft9in tall
Failure to comply could result in a $240 fine and 2 demerit points.
What is the law and what is the safest for your child are not the same thing. Though the law states that an eight year old child does not need to use a booster seat, it is very likely that your eight year old should still be using a booster seat. To reduce the chance of a head, neck, spinal or abdominal injury in an accident, it is recommended by both the Government of Ontario and the Middlesex-London Health Unit to keep kids in booster seats until:
- the shoulder belt lies across the child’s shoulder (not the face or neck) and middle of the chest.
- the lap belt lies across the upper thighs, not over the stomach.
- your child’s knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat when they are sitting all the way against the back of the seat.
- your child is taller than 145cm/4ft9in
It is likely that your child will not meet these requirements until they are 10-12 years old. Newer booster seats have weight limits of up to 120lbs to allow for these recommendations to be met.