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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Jun 2016
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    105

    Is extended harnessing really safer?

    Are there any crash tests to prove that it is safer? I constantly see people talking about how they've seen a video and now they're going to harness their kids until they run out seats to buy. But is a child who is mature enough to properly sit in a booster less safe than a child in a five point harness?
    This has always bugged me. So many people who are obsessed with extended harnessing. Yes, I realize the videos are sad, but if your child is of the proper age, size, and maturity to use a booster seat is there really a reason to put them back in a harnessed seat? I currently only have one child using the seatbelt and if there is substantial data and proof that extended harnessing is somehow safer than a seatbelt and booster seat I would like to know so I can keep him as safe as possible.
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  3. #2
    CPS Technician Aurezalia's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    No, you are correct. If a child is of the correct age, size, and had the maturity to sit properly in a booster, there is ZERO evidence that shows that extended harnessing is safer.
    In fact, there's another school of thought that NOT harnessing older kids is safer because of the increased neck loads in harnessed seats.
    Neither school of thought actually has any study or lick of scientific proof to back them up, though, so basically it comes down to what you as a parent favor and prefer for your child. Sounds like you're all set

  4. #3
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    There are no studies (pre or post crash) that show a difference in safety in a properly seated and restrained booster or harnessed rider over the age of about 5 and 40 pounds.

    The big thing to wait for for a seatbelt with a booster is maturity after those points (and I'm ok fudging the 40 pounds if you're talking about a lightweight six year old, assuming your state doesn't require 40 pounds as a legal minimum).

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    135

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    My 5.5 year old has been in a booster for a while now and does great. We're going on a long road trip next week and I'm going to put her back into the harness just for the trip, so she can sleep safely.
    DD1 - 10yo, 70lbs, 53" 2013 Parkway SG or Turbobooster
    DD2 - 8yo, 65lbs, 52" Turbobooster
    DD3 - 6yo, 45lbs, 44" 2013 Parkway SGL or Turbobooster
    DS - Due March 2019

  6. #5
    Registered User
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    Jan 2011
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    8

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    We harnessed until 6 because of my son's adhd and impulse issues. He's now 6 years 3 months old and doing fine in a hbb. Had he been mature enough I would have switched him a year ago because size wise he was ready.

    Sent from my SM-T230NU using Tapatalk
    DS Grayson 4: RF until 3. Now FF in Merritt Roosevelt

  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    New Zealand
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    245

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    I have recently just put my 6 and a half year old into HBB...his sister went into one at 5 and a half.

    I know in Australia they are big on extended harnessing and have seats which harness up to an average 10-12 year old.,,but yeah in all honestly unless I had a special needs child...and they could not sit correctly I wouldn't harness past 6 or 7 years.

    Take the likes of the frontier which got up to 90lbs harnessed that is the average weight of a 10-12 year old? I would hazard a guess that most 10-12 year olds can sit (most of the time ) correctly in a booster or able to fit the seatbelt on it's own...having a seat which harnesses up to 90lb means parent dont have to worry about their 40lb 5 year old who lacks maturity.

  8. #7
    CPST Instructor Carrie_R's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    The simple answer is, we don't know. If your child is petite or cannot sit properly, the harness is the right call. But once they are old enough and mature enough to booster properly, there is zero data that tells us either way.

    We know both NHTSA & AAP suggest harnessing until the harness is outgrown for the 4-7yo age group. But that doesn't mean "go out and buy a Frontier when your 6yo outgrows their Maestro," it means take advantage of the 5pt harness as long as you can before transitioning to booster mode. If you (general you), as a parent, wanted to buy that Frontier, there's nothing wrong with it - but it's a needless expense for the vast majority of kids.

    ETA: Somehow the first two replies didn't load for me when I first replied. Oops!
    Down to just a spare Radian, folded in the hall closet for my Godbaby.

    Check out this thread for a Pilot overview!

  9. #8
    Admin - CPST Instructor murphydog77's Avatar
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    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    http://carseatblog.com/37513/mythbus...or-older-kids/

    I think we also have to look at this from an historical point of view. Part of this recommendation comes from the days when carseats had an upper weight limit of 40 lbs., which, in reality, wasn't that long ago. A major movement toward HWH FF seats when the Kyle David Miller Foundation started handing them out to those families who couldn't afford them. At the time (11 years ago), there were about 3 carseats on the market and demand grew from there. There are issues behind what happened to KDM and the actual need for HWH seats, but suffice it to say, it's meant that fewer 3 year olds are riding in booster seats.

    The most important thing to remember is that a carseat, whether it's harnessed or booster, is first and foremost designed to keep a child restrained in a crash so he isn't thrown around inside or outside of the vehicle. If a child lacks the maturity to sit appropriately in a vehicle belt and is leaning over the second a crash happens, he will be injured or killed. Only the parent can make that decision, but a guideline can help. Things in child passenger safety change so slowly that it may take over a decade for guidelines to firmly take hold and then they change again.

  10. #9
    CPS Technician Kobain's Mommy's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    1,147

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    If the child is maturity, size and weight I'm fine with HBBs. That being said my 6yo has ASD and prefers the harness to a HBB, which he uses when with my parents, so I'm keeping him harnessed till he outgrows our FR90/FR85. My 4yo has ADHD and no impulse control what-so-ever. She'll be harnessed for a long while. I do however know some 5/6 y/os that would be perfectally fine in a HBB, and I also know an 4 and 8 yo that both belong in harnesses. The 4yo is harnessed when with me and seems fine.


  11. #10
    CPS Fanatic
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,117

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    Our 5 Yo is in a HBB around town and the harness wasn't so safe because he didn't do the straps correctly and freaked out if I tried to touch the straps...and we battled. But it was difficult with a continuous harness, I admit.

    The booster is perfect but it's for around town.

    During a road trip I will put the Sure Ride back in. It's just the in and out of the car that that set up didn't work out so well...plus he might sleep in a longer trip. He is 52 lbs. and 49" so we needed a big seat.

    My oldest was harnessed still at 8 as we had the Frontier. Worked out great and worked for younger kids, too, if needed.
    Now is 58.5 inches in an Incognito booster.
    Seatbelt and 59" (9 YO)
    Harmony Youth (8 YO)/Clek Olli (6YO)
    Harmony Dreamtime (5 YO)
    Clek Fllo (3 YO, RF)/Graco 40 (15 months)
    + 2 Recaro Performance boosters in spare car

  12. #11
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Location
    Illinois
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    11,991

    Re: Is extended harnessing really safer?

    The short answer is that after their 4th birthday, there just isn't much data out there to show if one is better than the other. Theoretically, more points of restraint should be more effective, but a harnessed seat depends a lot on the caregiver to install and use it correctly. Boosters are easier to use, but depend a lot on the maturity of the child to remain seated properly with the seatbelt fitting correctly.

    It's definitely not like switching from rear-facing to forward-facing, where rear-facing seats have considerable theoretical and practical advantages in the most common and severe types of crashes. A 5-point harness may indeed be safer for older kids, or not, we just can't say for certain, yet.

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