Children at Risk of Injury from Backless Car Safety Seats

Backless car booster seats put children at risk of serious injury in a crash, a British consumer watchdog warned Monday.

Impact tests by Which?, a product testing and campaigning charity, showed children who wear backless booster seats were at risk of serious injury in the event of a side impact collision, which accounts for one in four car accidents in the U.K.

A test dummy in a backless seat was repeatedly flung head-first against the backseat passenger window and door in the event of a side impact crash, while safety seats with a backrest cushioned the dummy from the blow.

A Which? study of 1,000 parents of children aged four to 12 found 47 percent of British children were at risk of serious injury, as 17 percent of children did not use any car safety seat, while 30 percent used the less effective backless booster.

"Every year in the U.K., around 30 children under 12 years old are killed while travelling in cars, and a further 300 are seriously injured," Peter Vicary-Smith, the consumer group's chief executive, said. "Kids might pile the pressure on parents not to have to sit in a full car seat when they get a bit older, but it could mean the difference between life and death."

The watchdog called on manufacturers to phase out backless boosters before more stringent legal requirements for child seats are expected in 2012.

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