June 5, 2007

Independent government study shows alarmingly low booster seat use in Canada

Windsor, Ontario – A new study shows that only 28 per cent of children between the ages of 4 and 8 are properly secured in booster or child seats when travelling in a vehicle. Too large for baby seats and too small for seat belts alone, this age group experiences about 10 times more deaths and injuries during car crashes than babies and toddlers.

The nationwide research was completed by the automotive research network AUTO21 for Transport Canada.

Throughout Canada, including Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia where booster seat laws are in effect, 72 per cent of children ages 4 to 8 are restrained in seatbelts only, which puts an estimates 1.8 million children at risk of serious injury in the event of a crash.

The figures released show that Newfoundland, at 5.3 per cent, has the lowest rate of booster/child seat use, while Ontario, at 34.3 per cent, has the highest. Percentages of other provinces were Prince Edward Island at 17.4, Nova Scotia at 22.8, New Brunswick at 26.4, Quebec at 30.9, Manitoba at 17.7, Saskatchewan at 25.2, Alberta at 29.3, British Columbia at 26.7, and the Northwest Territories at 31.6.

The study concludes that the prevailing use of seatbelts for children in vehicles suggests parents want to do what’s right to protect their children, but need a better understanding of the risks presented by seatbelts when they are not used with booster seats.

The study was based on more than 13,800 children across Canada, and can be downloaded at Auto21.ca.

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