NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As millions prepare to hit the roads over the next few days, a viral video from Eastern Virginia Medical School has parents thinking twice about how they buckle their kids in the back seat.
Even though the law says that children should be in a booster seat until age 8, doctors say some should be there until they’re 12.
That’s because doctors say car seat use should be based on height and bone growth — not age.
Doctors say when adult seat belts don’t fit kids correctly they can actually do more damage to internal organs and the spinal column.
Experts say children do not fit into an adult seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.
They recommend a seat belt “fit test” in each of your vehicles.
“What we’re looking at is the seat belt fit test, making sure before a child goes into the seat belt system that the child can sit all the way back, sitting upright with the knees bending back at the front edge of the seat … their feet resting flat on the floor allowing the shoulder belt to come properly over the shoulder… across the chest so it’s not over on the neck,” said New Kent County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lee Bailey in the video.
One of the most common questions people ask after seeing the video is whether small adults need a booster seat.
WAVY asked Dr. Kelli England with EVMS and she said, “No, because it’s not just about height.”
Children’s bodies she told us are more vulnerable. After puberty, our bones are stronger and can take the impact.
We also asked about the social stigma some older children may face if they are still in a car seat at an older age.
She said there are some small and discrete car seats that are not visible from outside the car. Also, she suggests showing your older children the video and information on their website to explain how the seat protects them.