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Safety seats vs seat belts – which one is safer?

Safety seats and seat belts are mandatory in most, if not all, developed countries. However, the rules regarding types for which age group and weight range from country to country. For most parents, a very important question is when they can finally get rid of the rather bulky car seats and shift their kids to normal seat belts without sacrificing safety.

This study compared the safety performance of safety seats and lap-and-shoulder seat belts found in most cars. The researchers analyzed data from car crashes in police reports and injuries to children aged 2 to 6 years old.

Their analysis shows that lap-and-shoulder seat belts prevent serious injuries as well as child safety seats. However, safety seats are still significantly more effective in preventing less serious injuries. Lap seat belts, the kind that are sometimes installed in the middle seat at the back offers the least protection of all. Still, the latter is better than no seat restraint at all.

The study results indicate that car safety seats are actually worth keeping as long as possible. We are definitely keeping ours – after 5-and-a-half years – for a couple of years more. However, we should keep in mind that safety seats can only provide maximum protection when properly installed.

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