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Evaluation of the static belt fit provided by belt-positioning booster seats

Reed, Matthew P.; Ebert-Hamilton, Sheila M.; Sherwood, Christopher P.; Klinich, Kathleen D.; Manary, Miriam A.
Accident Analysis and Prevention
May 2009

Belt-positioning booster seats are recommended for children who use vehicle seat belts as primary restraints but who are too small to obtain good belt fit. Previous research has shown that belt-positioning boosters reduce injury risk, but the belt fit produced by the wide range of boosters in the US market has not previously been assessed. The present study describes the development of a method for quantifying static belt fit with a Hybrid-III 6-year-old test dummy. The measurement method was applied in a laboratory seat mockup to 31 boosters (10 in both backless and highback modes) across a range of belt geometries obtained from in-vehicle measurements. Belt fit varied widely across boosters. Backless boosters generally produced better lap belt fit than highback boosters, largely because adding the back component moved the dummy forward with respect to the lap belt routing guides. However, highback boosters produced more consistent shoulder belt fit because of the presence of belt routing guides near the shoulder. Some boosters performed well on both lap belt and shoulder belt fit. Lap belt fit in dedicated boosters was generally better than in combination restraints that also can be used with an integrated harness. Results demonstrate that certain booster design features produce better belt fit across a wide range of belt geometries. Lap belt guides that hold the belt down, rather than up, and shoulder belt guides integrated into the booster backrest provided better belt fit.