Toronto, Ontario – A majority of Canadian households support the idea of booster seat laws, but only 30 per cent of children who should be in booster seats actually are, according to a new study by Safe Kids Canada.

According to the survey, most parents of children under the age of ten feel that a booster seat is necessary until the child is physically able to use a seatbelt alone, but Transport Canada said that despite existing booster seat laws in the majority of provinces, most children aren’t in them. This translates into 1.8 million Canadian children at risk of a severe injury every time they ride in a vehicle because they are using a seatbelt too early in their development.

“Parents need to know that although seatbelts are an effective safety device, they are designed for adult bodies and not young children,” said Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada. “The solution is simple. If your child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat and is under four feet nine inches tall or 145 centimetres, put them in a booster seat. It could save their life.”

Booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 60 per cent. Children need to ride in them from the time they outgrow their forward-facing car seats until they are big enough to use a seatbelt by itself. When a child is too small for a seatbelt, it cuts across the neck and rides up on the abdomen, which can cause life-threatening neck, spine and internal organ injuries in a crash. A booster seat better protects a child by positioning the seatbelt away from these areas.

Safe Kids Canada offers the following tips:

– Children are ready for booster seats when they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat, around the age of four or five, and are less than four feet nine inches tall.

– A booster seat lifts a child up so that the seatbelt fits correctly. Make sure to secure both the lap and shoulder belt properly so it can hold the child and the seat in place during a crash or sudden stop.

– There are two different types of booster seats that you can use in Canada: a high-back seat, which provides head and neck protection in cars without head restraints, and a no-back booster, used in cars that have adjustable head restraints.

Currently, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have mandatory booster seat legislation. Safe Kids Canada is advocating for legislation that would apply to all children under four feet nine inches, regardless of where they live in Canada.

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