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IIHS: Most Child Booster Seats Do Well In New Safety Rankings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- More than half of child booster seats that went on sale this year earned a top rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute, which is funded by insurers, ranked 31 new models. Nineteen earned the top rating of "best bet,'' which means they correctly position a 4- to 8-year-old child to use the regular shoulder and lap belts in almost any car. That is the most top ratings the institute has issued since it began rating booster seats in 2008.

"The booster seat will properly position the lap and shoulder belts so that the lap belt lies flat against the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lies firmly in the middle of the shoulder," said Jessica Jermakia, senior research scientist with the IIHS.

Studies have shown children in booster seats are 45 percent less likely to get hurt in a crash compared to kids who buckle up without one. Children should use boosters until they're big enough for adult belts to fit properly.

Evelyn Juarez told CBS 2's Cindy Hsu she always buckles up her 4-year-old son, Orlando, in his child car seat before they hit the road. She is now looking to buy him a booster seat.

"I've been in accidents myself," Juarez said. "And I know that I rely on that seatbelt to keep me in place."

Britax, Evenflo, Ferrari, Graco, Harmony, Recaro and Safety 1st all had seats on the institute's "best bet'' list. Both booster seats with high backs and those without backs performed well.

The cheapest "best bet'' was the Graco Connext backless seat, which costs $18. The most expensive, the Ferrari Beline SP, which has both high-back and backless modes, is $300.

"Price range does not affect the quality of the seat," said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the travel group AAA. "You can have a very good seat that's inexpensive or a bad seat that costs a lot."

Sinclair said that, even more than choosing which booster seat to buy, is learning how to install it properly.

"Police departments and AAA New York has events where parents can come in and have a certified child-safety-seat technician show they how to properly install the seat," he said.

There are only two booster seats the institute warns people not to buy: The Safety 1st All-In-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite. Both are made by Dorel Juvenile Group, which has several other seats on the "best bet'' list.

The institute said the seats, which can be used in rear-facing mode for infants as well as forward-facing mode for young children, aren't recommended because the lap belt comes up too far on the abdomen and the shoulder belt is too far out on the shoulder.

Dorel Juvenile Group said in a statement that the seats comply with all federal safety requirements and are recommended by the institute in some of their other modes.

Experts also suggest not taking a hand-me-down seat if it has previously been involved in an accident.

To the full list from the IIHS, click here.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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