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About Sickkids
About SickKids

October 15, 2009

Booster seats laws are driving down number of fatal accidents

Booster seat laws have a real impact on saving lives. A recent study led by The Hospital for Sick Children and York University has shown that U.S. booster seat laws may have significantly reduced child fatalities in serious head-on motor vehicle accidents. The study appears in the October issue of Injury Prevention.

Dr. Andrew Howard, SickKids Orthopaedic Surgeon, Scientist and Associate Professor in the departments of Surgery and Health Policy at the University of Toronto and Alison Macpherson, Assistant Professor in York University’s School of Kinesiology were the principal investigators.

“We know that booster seats prevent injuries,” says Howard, SickKids Trauma Program Medical Director. “What this study shows is that booster seat laws reduce child deaths in car crashes”.

The study found there is at least a 20 per cent reduction in child fatalities when a booster seat is used. The researchers sampled 14,571 children, aged four to eight years, who were involved in fatal motor vehicle collisions in the U.S between 1995 and 2005. Of the 14,571 children involved in these crashes, 1,835 (12.6 per cent) children died. Researchers found that child fatalities as a result of head-on crashes were significantly decreased in states with strict booster seat laws compared to those states without such laws.

Howard says this may be a conservative estimate of the benefits, because they looked only at crashes in which someone is killed. It did not include children who were in booster seats in accidents – some of them serious – in which no one was killed.”

Furthermore, the enforcement of booster seat laws have shown to improve both child safety and the safety practices of parents. In fact, the statistics found that children aged four to eight were more likely to be restrained in seat belts and/or booster seats in states with booster seat laws.

For more information please visit the Safe Kids Canada website.