Identifying Strategies to Improve the Effectiveness of Booster Seat Laws
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Identifying Strategies to Improve the Effectiveness of Booster Seat Laws

Filetype[PDF-1.36 MB]

  • English

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      The objective of this project was to identify strategies to improve the effectiveness of booster seat laws. The project explored the possible factors that relate to the use and nonuse of booster seats, and examined the attitudes of law enforcement officers and parents/caregivers concerning booster seat laws. As of June 2007, 38 States and the District of Columbia have included booster seat provisions in their child restraint laws. A recent NHTSA-sponsored observational survey found 41% of children age 4 to 8 restrained in boosters. A literature review uncovered the following reasons that parents/caregivers do not restrain their children in boosters: misunderstanding of the law; underestimation of risk; lack of knowledge about the benefits of booster seats; and permissive parenting style. An observational study conducted in this project found a 9.1-percentage-point increase in the use of child safety seats and booster seats for children age 4 to 8 following enactment of an enhanced child restraint law (booster seat law). Barriers to the use and enforcement of booster seat laws were addressed in focus groups with parents/caregivers and law enforcement officers. Barriers included parent/caregiver ignorance of child restraint laws and low risk perception; lack of knowledge about the safety benefits of booster seats among the public, as well as among law enforcement officers and members of the courts; low threat of being ticketed for booster seat violations; and lack of commitment to child passenger safety (CPS) by law enforcement top management. Educational, enforcement, and legislative strategies were developed to improve the effectiveness of booster seat laws. The educational strategies are teaching parents/caregivers about best practices for restraint use and the risks of inappropriate restraint use; and identification of booster seat resources for low-income groups. The enforcement strategies include enlisting support for CPS activities from chiefs of police; training law enforcement officers and judges about CPS best practices and their State laws; high-visibility enforcement of child restraint laws; recording appropriate child restraint law violation data on citations; including law enforcement officers in publicity promoting booster seat laws and best practices; and use of fear appeals in CPS messages to increase parent/caregiver risk perception. Legislative strategies are enactment of booster seat laws in all States; strengthening of booster seat laws to meet best practices; and enactment of primary booster seat laws as well as primary seat belt laws.
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