Booster Seat Ratings From Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


Parents who want to ensure their children are safe when they are in the family vehicle should check out the new booster seat ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Out of 60 models examined, eleven booster seats are not recommended at all and fifteen are rated as best bests and good bets.

Booster seats are needed for young children because safety belts are designed for adults. Boosters raise children so the belts fit their smaller frames and better protect them in the event of a crash.

What makes a booster seat safe? A good booster, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is one that routes the lap belt flat across the child’s upper thighs and allows the shoulder belt to be positioned at midshoulder. Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research, notes in the Institute’s news release that “Parents can’t tell a good booster form a bad one just by comparing design features and price. Our ratings make it easier to pick a safer booster for kids who have outgrown child restraints.”


The new ratings cover nearly all the models sold in the United States. Booster seats rated by the IIHS in the best bets and good bets categories range in price from about $20 to $250 or more. Several new boosters were just released and were not included in this round of ratings. The IIHS plans to evaluate these new models throughout the year.

The IIHS best bets “should provide good lap and shoulder belt fit for typical 4-8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan, or SUV,” according to McCartt. They include the Britax Frontier, Clek Oobr, Combi Dakota backless with clip, Cosco Juvenile Pronto, Eddie Bauer Auto Booster, Evenflo Big Kid Amp backless with clip, Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR, Recaro Vivo, and Recaro Young Sport.

Among the good bets are the Combi Kobuk dual-use backless with shoulder belt clip, Maxi-Cosi Rodi dual-use highback, Evenflo Symphony 65 3-in-1, Britax Parkway SG dual-use highback, Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat Wander dual-use highback, and Graco TurboBooster SafeSeatSachi dual-use highback. McCartt notes that good bets “provide optimal belt fit in almost as many vehicles as the best bet models.”

Thirty-four booster seats did not make the best bets or good bets, but they can provide good protection for some children in some vehicles.

The IIHS also has a list of the booster seats that it does not recommend. Some of the reasons include the fact that the booster seats leave the lap belt too high on the abdomen and the shoulder belt too far out on the shoulder. Some have poor shoulder belt fit. Consumers can see the full ratings list complete with model numbers and photos of the booster seats on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety press release, Dec. 22, 2009