What Are The IIHS Booster Evaluations 2014?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) regularly evaluates booster seats and publishes their findings to help parents to make an informed decision when they come to purchase these types of seats for their kids.
The great news for parents is that a record number of booster seats were awarded the IIHS top rating score of “Best Bet” – 27 out of 41 new seats tested.
The assessors were primarily looking to see if the shoulder belt and lap belt fitted correctly when using the seat in a variety of different situations and vehicle set-ups. Although these are not dynamic crash tests, properly fitting shoulder and lap belts are considered to be an essential safety issue and incorrectly fitted belts can cause unnecessary injuries to children in collisions.
A properly fitted lap belt will lie flat across your child’s upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen. A properly fitted shoulder belt will cross snugly over the middle of a child’s shoulder, not across the neck or upper arm.
There are 4 different ratings applied to the seats that were tested by the IIHS:
- Best Bet
- Good Bet
- Check Fit
- Not Recommended
In this post, I am going to concentrate on the “Best Bet” rating, but you can find a full list of the test results and a more detailed explanation of each of the assessment categories on the IIHS website.
Here is a short video from the IIHS explaining more about the 2014 tests and also what parents should look for when assessing the shoulder belt and lap belt fit on their child:
What is a “Best Best” Booster Seat?
The IIHS defines a “Best Bet” booster seat as one that provides a good belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV.
You can find a full list of the 2014 “Best Bet” seats on the IIHS website, and I am not going to list them all within this post.
Instead, I am simply going to mention a few of the “Best Bet’ seats that have caught my eye, including 3 that have been upgraded from the lower “Check Fit” rating, due to the manufacturer redesigning their armrests.
The Britax Harness-to-Booster Seats Upgraded to “Best Bet” Rating
All 3 of the Britax Harness-to-Booster seats were awarded a “Check Fit” rating in 2013 and, although, the problem with the lap belt fit did not apply to the “harness mode” and could be improved using a Britax SecureGuard Clip, many parents were obviously concerned about this rating and avoided these seats as a result.
Since the disappointing 2013 evaluations results, Britax have completely redesigned the armrests on their harness-to-booster seats and it is this improvement that has helped the Britax Pinnacle 90, Britax Frontier 90 and Britax Pioneer 70 seats to achieve their “Best Bet” ratings in 2014.
Other “Best Bet” Seats
As I have already mentioned, there are 27 seats that achieved the top score and I cannot mention them all within this post.
However, some of my favourites include:
After purchasing any child car seat, you should always read the User Manual thoroughly before using it. It is also advisable to visit your local Fire Department or NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Centre to ensure that the seat is definitely suitable for your child’s specific requirements and that you have installed it correctly. These services are usually provided free of charge.
You can find your nearest NHTSA Centre here.
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