The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests child seats much in the same way they test cars: lots of dummies and lots of rankings, but less explosive glass and steel. And out of the 17 booster seats introduced this year, 15 of them earned the IIHS’s highest ranking of “Best Bet” and two, from the now ironically-labeled “Safety 1st” brand, didn’t make the cut.
Like cars, booster seats fall into categories based on how well they protect. But here, they’re more stringent. All booster seats are designed to protect kids to the fullest extent, so what happens when they don’t? Well in the case of the Safety 1st ones, the belts don’t fit properly. The lower lap belt is too high, across the abdomen instead of where it should be across the thighs, and the shoulder belt is “too far out on the shoulder,” according to the IIHS. The shoulder belt should go directly across the child’s middle, not below the armpit, and not strangling the neck.
The IIHS ranked 54 booster seats currently on the market, and in addition to the two mentioned above 47 of those are the Best Bet, while 5 are a Good Bet. They provide adequate fit for seatbelts in cars, depending on the car itself—but with so many Best Bet seats on the market today, why limit yourself?
The full list of Best Bet booster seats can be found at the PDF link here.