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  1. #1
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    High back booster versus high weight harness seat

    I'm in the process of deciding on a new seat for DS, he is 47" and 47lbs and very mature.
    I always thought having them harnessed was safer, 5 contact points versus 3 and more a a guarantee to not fail versus the cars 3 points? When you see race car drivers, etc they are using a 5 point harness system versus the 3.
    My question is, is there something I don't know? Why are so many people now choosing a booster over the the higher weight limit seats?
    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member tarynsmum's Avatar
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    Re: High back booster versus high weight harness seat

    Quote Originally Posted by mom23guests View Post
    I'm in the process of deciding on a new seat for DS, he is 47" and 47lbs and very mature.
    I always thought having them harnessed was safer, 5 contact points versus 3 and more a a guarantee to not fail versus the cars 3 points? When you see race car drivers, etc they are using a 5 point harness system versus the 3.
    My question is, is there something I don't know? Why are so many people now choosing a booster over the the higher weight limit seats?
    Thanks
    How old is he? A 47" 47lb 'very mature' 3/5 year old is very different than a 47" 47lb 'very mature' 6 year old. you know?

    The thing is, we don't KNOW if one is safeR than the other. There aren't any studies to tell us one way or the other. The European standard tends to believe that HWHing leads to increased neck loads (which is why they RF to 4 or 5 and then booster). Or maybe a booster leads to higher head excursion - that's the thing, We Don't Know, we can only speculate. I personally feel that a child who is over the weight limit, over the height limit, with a good belt fit with both the lap and shoulder placement, and mature enough to sit correctly every time, is fine in a booster (this describes my DD, since she can be harnessed if I chose).
    ~Heather
    DD: 8 years old, 48lbs, 50". DS: 5 years old, 36lbs, 40.5".

  4. #3
    CPS Technician tam_shops's Avatar
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    Re: High back booster versus high weight harness seat

    Quote Originally Posted by mom23guests View Post
    I always thought having them harnessed was safer, 5 contact points versus 3 and more a a guarantee to not fail versus the cars 3 points? When you see race car drivers, etc they are using a 5 point harness system versus the 3.
    Hi, race car drivers use a 5pt harness on their body AND another one (or is it two) on their head. I found knowing this helpful when adjusting to the idea of a booster myself...

    As Heather said, we really don't know if extended harness (EH) has great benefits, or not. There has yet to be any detailed enough testing/information for us to make an informed decision. Some here support it past age 6yo and others do not think it is necessary for a developmentally typical child.

    *Personally* my 6yo is still in harness. Many of the experienced techs here have said it is not necessary. I have no problem w/ it, nor does he. I understand that there may be no safety benefit. I have heard no safety reason(s) to convince me to remove him from the harness. I like the car seat lady and how she defines each step towards a different seat (ie RF to FF and FF to booster) is a step *down* in safety. That is a good enough reason for me to keep him in his harness, as he still fits.

    I am not in a position to have to buy him a new seat, and that would also affect my answer/response to what/how I would seat him in my (other) cars...

    tam
    Teacher, CRST, and mom to

    ds1 7yo Oobr and dsZ 3.5yo Frontier

  5. #4
    CPST Instructor monica-m's Avatar
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    Re: High back booster versus high weight harness seat

    What it comes down to is we have no evidence (study, statistical, or otherwise) that shows a harness is safer than a booster, or that a booster is safer than a harness for that matter. With the information we have all we can say is that they are equally safe when used properly provided that the booster rider has the required size and maturity.
    DS1 3.24.10 riding in a Frontier 90 in booster mode and a Cybex M-Fix.
    DS2 1.18.14 rear facing in a Foonf and a Fllo.

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Mar 2008
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    Canada
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    862

    Re: High back booster versus high weight harness seat

    Race car drivers wear a HANS (Head And Neck Support) device, which is what tam was referring to, I think. It is an extra piece of equipment that goes around the neck and shoulders and the driver's helmet tethers to it on both sides of the head. It prevents the head from whipping forward in relation to the body which is held back by the harness. As tarynsmum mentioned there is concern in some circles with the body being held back too firmly in a harness while the head whips forward - the whole reason why rear-facing is safer. I have also heard concerns about high loads in the groin area.

    So, the race-car driver comparison is moot, since they have extra equipment that mitigates the high neck loads. I'm not sure a vehicle seat belt is any more or less likely to fail than a restraint harness or a UAS anchor/connector, so that wouldn't enter into my thinking at all. Plus for a heavier kid you may have to install the restraint with the seat belt anyway (UAS anchors have weight limits - most are either 40 lbs or 48 lbs), so you'd still have that as an issue.

    As previously stated, there is no good evidence on this either way. It actually kind of bothers me that the common institutional line is that a step up to the next type of car seat is a step down in safety, because we only have evidence that this is actually true in the case of RFing to FFing. The only thing that lets me live with that statement is the presumption that it is likely directed at the hoards of people that put their 3-year olds in boosters, which is clearly not safe. Switching to a booster is ONLY safe if your child is at least 40 lbs, and is mature enough, which usually means at least 5-years old, maybe older. It also matters that the booster fits properly. I'm not sure which is most prevalent - incorrectly installed harnessed seats, or improperly fitting boosters. Both are sadly common.

    So, all that said (that was way longer than I intended!), it is a parental decision. If you go booster, make sure the child is ready and the booster seat makes the seat belt fit properly in every car it will be used in. And know that correctly used booster seats are perfectly safe. I'll be trying my 5-year old out in a booster in the fall once he is solidly over 40 lbs (still varies right now) and our summer road-tripping is over. The potential increased neck-loads issue combined with the fact that correctly used boosters are safe puts me in the camp of boostering when appropriate (i.e. not staying in a harness if there is no need to do so). But that's just me.

    ETA: In case you are curious about the HANS device: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HANS_device
    ~Tracey~
    Little Boy 1 - Graco Turbo Booster & Diono Monteray - 6 yrs, 50lbs, 48"
    Little Boy 2 - FF Radian XT - 4 yrs, 42 lbs, 45"

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