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5-point VS. Shield
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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.

Web MD:  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.

Hannah Garner - Killed at age 4 when she was ejected from Gerry Double Guard.

Eric Brockschmidt - Paralyzed at age 3 in a Kolcraft shield booster

Dylan White - Paralyzed from the neck down at age five in the Cosco Grand Explorer

USA Today On Cosco Grand Explorer

Kansas City Star on Cosco Grand Explorer




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:

  • Fling too far forward, resulting in serious head or spinal injuries or
  • Submarine UNDER the shield and have spinal/neck injuries or are actually decapitated.
  • There are also unfortunate cases where children are thrown OUT in a side-impact or rollover collision.

Today, there are better, safer options for children both under 40 lbs and over.
 

The Safest Options

Under 40 lbs

Convertible Seat

Put the child in a convertible car seat facing forward. The harness must be in the reinforced slots and the harness must come out of the slots at or above the child's shoulders; the tops of the child's ears should be below the top of the seat shell.  Check the car seat manual to determine which harness slots are reinforced for forward-facing use.

Put the child in a combination seat. Use the five-point harness until child is 40 lbs, then use as a belt-positioning booster with car's lap-shoulder belt.

Combination Seat

 

Over 40 lbs

High Back Booster

Put child in a high-back belt-positioning booster and use the car's lap-shoulder belt as a restraint.

Put the child in a backless belt-positioning booster and use the car's lap-shoulder belt as a restraint.  Backless boosters can only be used in vehicles with head restraints or high seat backs; they are not an option in vehicles with low seat backs.

Backless Booster Seat

 

History of booster recommendations


Options for kids over 40 lbs with lap only belts

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History of Shield Booster Recommendations