Skip to content

Canada and US child booster seat safety questions

The National Post reports today that, “Transport Canada on Friday announced tougher safety standards for car and booster seats after its own crash tests showed many failed to provide good protection for young children.”

Raising the serious question of safety standards for booster seats, “The results of Transport Canada’s own crash tests, released last week and carried out over the last seven years by the department’s road safety research branch, showed fewer than half of the booster seats — 70 of 161 — provided ‘good protection’ for children when the vehicles were involved in moderate to severe impacts.”

Why was this safety concern not addressed over the past seven years? “Transport Canada concedes these issues never surfaced during regular compliance testing because Canadian and American regulators do not presently require that child restraints be tested using the lap/shoulder belt.”

Now, “In addition to aligning Canadian requirements with those of the United States to encourage parents to keep their children in forward-facing car seats longer before graduating to booster seats, the government is proposing to go further than the U.S. with a tougher test before any of these products can be sold in Canada.”

While we want safety improvements for chidlren’s booster seats, concerns should be raised about the government’s delay in taking any steps, why that was the case, the strength of the new “aligned” standards, and a possible connection to the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

A stated goal of the SPP was to “promote greater compatibility in autos and auto parts regulations, standards and conformity assessment, while ensuring safety and environmental protection.”

As noted in an ‘Integrate This!’ blog posting from November 2007, CTV.ca had reported at that time that, “Canadians who are taking advantage of the lofty loonie and doing some cross-border shopping should pass on making one key purchase in the U.S.: an infant or child car seat. That’s because it is illegal to use a car seat bought outside of Canada.”

Why? CTV reported that, “U.S. certified booster seats have a lower weight limit than Canadian standards.”

“Car seats bought outside of Canada don’t meet standards set by Canada’s Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations (RSSR) or those of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), and do not bear the National Safety Mark required in Canada.”

In Canada, children need to be restrained in a car seat until they weigh 40 pounds and are four years old. After both requirements are met, they can move into a booster seat.

The lower weight limit for booster seats in the United States was not something Canada should have wanted to harmonize our standards to through the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

Perhaps the weight limit should even be higher. The United Nations standard ECE R44/04 suggests 48-76 pounds is the appropriate weight for a booster seat.

The National Post article is at http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/posted/archive/2009/10/09/ottawa-unveils-tougher-safety-standards-for-car-booster-seats.aspx. My blog from November 2007 is at http://canadians.org/integratethis/safety/2007/Nov-27.html.