Child Seat Belt Guidelines: Examining the 4 Feet 9 Inches Rule as the Standard

This article reports on a study that investigated the current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations regarding transition from child safety/booster seat to adult safety belt use. These recommendations dictate that children should be at least 4 feet 9 inches, 8 years old, or 80 pounds. Proper fit in the vehicle seat, assessed with a five-point fit test, should also be met. In this study, a Child Passenger Safety Technician conducted the five-point fit test on children (n = 388), aged 7 to 12 years, in a set of five different vehicles. The authors found that the threshold of 90% proper fit was met in the compact car and small sport-utility vehicle (SUV). However, among children who were 4 feet 9 inches or taller (n = 104), only 80 (77%) fit properly in the large SUV, only 87 (83%) of 105 students fit properly in the pickup truck, and only 91 (89%) of 102 students fit properly in the minivan. The authors conclude that a substantial percentage of children meeting current height guidelines for an adult seat belt do not meet safety requirements for fit, especially in larger, commonly used vehicles. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the use of booster seats as well as a call for more standardized seat dimensions and seat belt positioning in automobiles.


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  • Accession Number: 01647198
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 27 2017 10:20AM