As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, the 2017 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS) released its report on restraint use and found concerning results around tweens.

The survey discovered that only about 12 percent of children ages 8-12 are in booster seats, but safety experts suggest many of those children still need them.

“It is rare that an 8-year-old is ready for a belt because it is based on height and fit, not age,” says Kelli England Will, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics at EVMS and a nationally known expert in the field of child safety. “Most children should graduate to a seat belt around fourth or fifth grade, around age 10 or even 11.”

Car accidents are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, but Dr. Will says the risk can be greatly reduced by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.

While the numbers for tweens are troubling, car seat and booster use was up among younger children. NSUBS found that child restraint use for 4- to 7-year-old children was about 68.5 percent. That’s up 6 percent from 2015.

If parents aren’t sure which type of restraint to use, Dr. Will recommends attending a local car-seat check event. Several are scheduled in Hampton Roads this weekend:


September 29

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

AAA Tidewater Corporate

5366 Virginia Beach Blvd.

Virginia Beach, VA 23462


September 29

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Walmart Supercenter

731 Rochambeau Dr.

Williamsburg, VA 23188

If parents can’t make one of those events, visit and take the safety-belt fit test online.