Booster Seats – Group 2
15kg upwards (from approx. 4 years)
Booster seats are light, easy to fit and popular with children. A happy child is less likely to distract you while you are driving.
There have been significant changes in this group and group 3 over the past few years as child seat manufacturers have developed seats to protect your child in a side impact as well as in a frontal crash. One in four crashes involves side impact so this is an important development.
In the past you might have thought in terms of a shallow-backed booster seat where the back can be removed to convert it to a booster cushion for older children.
Now the market is dominated by adjustable, high back boosters – seats with deep side wings the height of which can be adjusted to provide side impact protection until the child reaches 12 years or 135cm tall.
- The adult lap and diagonal seat belt restrains both the child and seat – there's no integral harness for the child.
- In some cases the seat back can be removed and the remaining base used as a simple booster cushion. While it's true to say that a booster cushion is better than an adult belt alone they don't offer any protection against side impact so are best used only for occasional trips where it's not convenient to use the full-sized seat.
- Some 'booster seats' incorporate a removable, integral five–point harness so that they can be used for the younger weight range too. Look for seats marked Groups 1, 2, and 3.
- Look for seats with a wide range of head support adjustment and good protection against side impact
- The diagonal part of the belt should lie across the child's shoulder, not against the neck.
- The lap part of the belt should lie across the top of the child's thighs, not around the abdomen.
- Belts should lie flat on the child – avoid twists, which can increase the loads on the child in a crash.
- Never pass the diagonal part of the belt under the child's arm.
- Static rather than automatic seat belts must be used for children under three years (i.e. At the lower end of the weight range). Don't worry if you have automatic belts fitted though, many now have a so-called ALR/ELR facility that allows them to be 'converted' to static operation. Check your car's handbook.
- Many seats come with a locking device that effectively converts your belts to static operation. The locking device often acts as a belt guide too, allowing you to adjust the angle and height of the diagonal part of the belt to suit your child's height.
- Booster seats generally suffer less from compatibility problems in relation to the car's seat belt design and geometry compared with two-point mounting seats. They are easier to fit and more likely to be fitted correctly.