Booster seat use among school-aged children has been consistently lower than national goals. In this study, we sought to explore associations between parental experiences with booster seats and carpooling.
We conducted a cross-sectional Web-based survey of a nationally representative panel of US parents in January 2010. As part of a larger survey, parents of 4- to 8-year-old children responded to 12 questions related to booster seats and carpooling.
Of 1612 parents responding to the full survey (response rate = 71%), 706 had a 4- to 8-year-old child and 681 met inclusion rules. Most parents (76%) reported their child used a safety seat when riding in the family car. Of children reported to use seat belts, 74% did so in accordance with their state law. Parent report of child safety seat use was associated with younger child age and with the presence of state booster seat laws. Sixty-four percent of parents carpool. Among parents who carpool and whose children use a child safety seat: 79% indicated they would always ask another driver to use a booster seat for their child and 55% reported they always have their child use their booster seat when driving friends who do not have boosters.
Carpooling is a common driving situation during which booster seat use is inconsistent. Social norms and self-efficacy are associated with booster seat use. Clinicians who care for children should increase efforts to convey the importance of using the size-appropriate restraint for every child on every trip.