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The Dangers of Shield Boosters
Expert Statements on Shield Boosters
Kathleen Weber (University Of Michigan Transportation Research Institute): Shield boosters are no longer considered appropriate crash protection for children. Crash investigations have documented ejections, excessive excursions, and shield-contact injuries in rollover, side, and frontal crashes, resulting in severe head, spinal, abdominal, and extremity injuries.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Children who weigh 40 pounds or less are best protected in a seat with a full harness. Significant injuries have occurred to children in shield boosters in crashes due to ejection, excessive head movement, and shield contact.
SafetyBeltSafe USA: Booster seats with a plastic shield in front of the child are not recommended.
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA): Boosters with removable shields. Use without the shield to make lap and shoulder belts fit right. A child who has outgrown their convertible seat, yet weighs less than 40 pounds can be moved into a high-back booster with a harness.
University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center: A small shield does not provide nearly as much upper body and head protection as a full harness does for the 30 to 40 pound child. Also, a small shield does not provide as much upper body and head protection as does the lap/shoulder belt used with a belt-positioning booster...a 30 to 40 pound child should remain in the full harness seat rather than being switched to a booster.
There's more evidence against shield-style child booster seats. Children are at
nearly eight times higher risk of serious injury when riding in these
seats, a new study shows.
Shield Booster Injuries and Deaths
There have been at least 37 filed cases of children injured or killed in the Cosco Explorer/Grand Explorer (the only shield booster currently available). Here are a few of those and other shield booster cases that you can read personally.
Why shouldn't I use a shield booster?
The most important thing to understand is that this seat is only tested for frontal collisions. It does not have to pass side-impact testing, rear-impact testing or rollover testing. Many of the expert statements above address this concern. Real children have been injured or killed in shield boosters
This seat is NOT approved for airline use. A study done by the FAA concluded "As a class of child restraint devices, shield-type booster seats, in combination with factors associated with airplane passenger seats, contributed to an abdominal pressure measurement higher than in other child restraint devices and did not prevent a head impact." (http://www.faa.gov/fsdo/ord/change.htm)
This seat is not recommended by any safety expert when used with the shield. Certified child passenger safety technicians do not recommend them when doing car seat check-ups. Generally, when a CPS tech sees children in them, they recommend that the shield part of the seat be destroyed and the base used with a lap-shoulder belt; it is recommended that a lighter child (under 40 lbs) be moved into a high back booster with an internal harness. By 2005, all manufacturers had discontinued production of shield boosters.
The problem with using shield boosters now is that they were designed for a different time. These booster seats were designed back when all cars only had lap belts in back. After a child had outgrown their harnessed car seat, parents had to choose between a shield booster or only a lap belt, it was the only option. At the time, it seemed they provided more protection than just a lap belt, but that was before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration introduced the 6 year old test dummy. It was discovered that the shields on these boosters did not pass the government standard for head excursion (how far forward the head moves in a frontal collision) over 40 lbs.
Here's what the SafetyBeltSafe USA Technical Encyclopedia says: "After September 1996, all CRs had to meet the standard performance criteria using the 6-year dummy (47 lb) to certify over 40 lb. Many earlier products that certified to 60 lb using only the 3-year dummy (33.5 lb) are still in circulation, but they would not pass the current standard if tested today."
It has never been recommended that a child under 40 lbs use a booster (with or without a shield).
Shield Boosters provide little or no upper-body protection. In many cases, the children who are injured or killed in these either:
Today, there are better, safer options for children both under 40 lbs and over.
The Safest Options