Child Booster Seat Safety: An Attitudinal Model of the Use of Booster Seats

By Anitsal, M. Meral; Anitsal, Ismet et al. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Child Booster Seat Safety: An Attitudinal Model of the Use of Booster Seats


Anitsal, M. Meral, Anitsal, Ismet, Liska, Kevin, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

According to the Center for Disease Control, "In the United States, 1,791 children younger than 15 years were killed and 282,000 were injured as passengers in motor vehicle crashes in 1997 (2007). As stated by the Washington State Booster Seat Coalition (2003), motor-vehicle collisions were the single largest killer of children age 4-8 years because riding unrestrained generated the greatest risk for death and injury among child passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) review of field data revealed that of children ages 0 to 14 killed in motor vehicle crashes during 2005, nearly half were unrestrained" (2006).

Unfortunately, many children who should be in a booster seat restrained by a seat belt are restrained. According to NHTSA, up to 90% of children in the U.S. who should be using booster seats were not using them regularly or at all (2006 and 2007). National SAFE KIDS Coalition (2003) found that only 19% of children who should be restrained in booster seats use them. Glassbrenner and Ye (2007) found that about 41 percent of 4- to 7-year old children were restrained in booster seats in 2006 in the U.S. Another study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed child-restraint systems were misused, increasing a child's risk of injury in a crash (NHTSA 2006).

What is a booster seat? Who should use it? What would happen with lack of or improper use of it? What would happen to child passengers only using seatbelts designed for adults with no booster seat in a motor-vehicle crash? All parents should know the answers to these questions by the time they have their first child. The National Safety Belt Coalition (2007) dictated booster seats should be used as a transition to safety belts by older children who had clearly outgrown their booster seat but were not ready for the vehicle-belt system because a booster seat raised a child to ensure the safety belt fit correctly. The shoulder belt should cross the chest and rest snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the pelvis or hip area. An ill-fitting seat belt during a crash might cause devastating injuries (CNW Group 2008). Seatbelts designed for adults can create the risk of abdominal and spinal-chord injuries to children, and loosely fitting belts can cause facial and/or brain injuries when the head strikes the knees or other surfaces (Wall Street Journal 2003). Every state has its own laws on using seat belts and booster seats (Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 2007). Tennessee was the first state to enact a law mandating that children be restrained in a safety seat and is also one of only 18 states requiring children up to age 8 to be restrained in a booster seat (Tennessee Department of Safety 2008). The first booster seat law was introduced in Washington State after a fatal accident involving a 4-year-old child using an adult seat belt (Higgins 2005).

Booster seats can greatly improve children's protection when used appropriately; in fact, "A properly used safety seat or booster reduces the chances of a child being seriously injured or killed in a car crash by more than half (Baltimore Sun 2008). Usually parents protect their children in baby seats until age 4; however, many parents seem unaware of their children's vulnerability when using adult seatbelts before age 9. Booster seats provide 60 percent more protection than seat belts alone for children four to nine years old (CNW Group 2008).

Children's injuries and deaths caused by not using or by misusing seat belts and booster seats must be reduced. This lack of use or misuse may result from parents, family members, and other adults not encouraging child occupants to practice good safety standards and behavior. To remedy this situation, the Ollie Otter Seatbelt and Booster Seat Education Campaign was designed as a comprehensive program to encourage children to use booster seats and seat belts.

From August 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008, Ollie's Seatbelt and Booster Seat Safety Program reached over 57,184 children from 2,928 classrooms in 154 schools representing 95 counties of Tennessee. …

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