A recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan found that young children who participate in carpools are far less likely to be secured by a booster seat if they are with another parent-driver, or if they are with another child who does not use a booster seat.
Researchers found that over 30 percent of parents do not enforce booster seat use when their children are with another driver. The survey also revealed that 45 percent of parents do not make their kids use booster seats if they are transporting other children who do not have booster seats.
When booster seats are not used, adult seat belts can fit incorrectly, landing in an irritating or uncomfortable position. This causes kids to put seat belts under their arm or behind their back. Doing so fails to protect the child in the event of a car accident, putting them at risk for injuries to the head, spine, and abdominal area. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, properly using a booster seat decreases the odds of a child being injured in a car accident by 60 percent compared to those children using seat belts alone.
Investigators think that carpooling parents don't use booster seats due to overcrowding and lack of time to coordinate booster seat switch offs. They also said that while child safety is the biggest concern, it is important to remember that in most states it is illegal for certain children to be seated in a car without a booster seat.
In Pennsylvania, children ages four to eight must be buckled into a federally-approved child booster seat. Whether in the front or the back of the vehicle, booster seats must be used in conjunction with lap and shoulder belts.