Prevalence and predictors of booster seat use in Alberta, Canada

Richard P. Golonka, Bonnie M. Dobbs, Brian H. Rowe, Don Voaklander


OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of booster seat misuse in a Canadian province and identify determinants of non-use.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study using parking lot interviews and in-vehicle restraint inspections by trained staff was conducted at 67 randomly selected childcare centres across Alberta. Only booster-eligible children were included in this analysis. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) are reported using unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression.

RESULTS: Overall, 23% of children were not in a booster seat, and in 31.8% of cases there was evidence of at least one misuse. Non-use increased significantly by age, from 22.2% for children 2 years of age to 47.8% for children 7 years of age (p = 0.02). Children who were at significantly increased risk of booster seat non-use were those in vehicles with drivers who could not recall the booster seat to seatbelt transition point (OR: 4.54; 95% CI: 2.05–10.06) or drivers who were under the age of 30 (OR: 3.54; 95% CI: 1.45–8.62). A front row seating position was also associated with significantly higher risk of nonuse (OR: 18.00; 95% CI: 2.78–116.56). Children in vehicles with grandparent drivers exhibited significantly decreased risk of booster seat non-use (OR: 0.21; 95% CI: 0.05–0.85).

CONCLUSION: Messaging should continue to stress that the front seat is not a safe place for any child under the age of 9 as well as remind drivers of the booster seat to seatbelt transition point, with additional emphasis placed on appealing to parents under the age of 30. Future research should focus on the most effective means of communicating booster seat information to this group. Enacting mandatory booster seat legislation would be an important step to increase both awareness and proper use of booster seats in Alberta.


Child restraint systems; seatbelts; booster seats; car seats

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