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When is it safe for a child to move from a booster seat to a seat belt?

Updating height recommendations for booster seats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all children ages 12 and under sit in the rear seat of a moving vehicle and use a height/weight appropriate child safety seat or booster seat. Booster seats elevate children to improve the fit of vehicles’ seat belts, which are designed for adults. Premature graduation to seat belts is common among older children.

Research shows that among children 4-7 years old, 26% are using belts only, rather than booster seats. An additional 12% were unrestrained. The height/weight ranges for child restraint and booster seat use recommendations were developed decades ago. The average sizes of children at various ages have increased since that time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked Westat to conduct a study to update the height recommendation for promoting children from using booster seats to using adult seat belts while traveling.

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