According to the latest booster seat test results released by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, booster seat designs are safer than ever.

The institute recently examined 17 booster seats, which were released in 2012, showing that all but two of the designs have been added to the list of Best Bet booster seats, which now totals 47 seats.

"Booster manufacturers have risen to the Institute's challenge to improve seat design, giving parents more choices than ever when shopping for a booster that will provide a good, safe fit for their children," says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research, in a press release.

The IIHS did not conduct crash tests with the booster seats but checked to see whether the designs fit children and vehicle seatbelts properly.

Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that New Orleans laws requiring children use a booster seat until the age of eight have been related to fewer motor vehicle fatalities and severe injuries compared to states that didn't have similar laws in place.

"Many states have booster seat laws," said Lois Lee, the senior author of the abstract. "However, there are different requirements for how long the child should remain in the booster seat. Our analysis supports the fact that booster seat laws should follow AAP standards to optimally protect children when they are riding in a motor vehicle."

There were 9,848 fatalities and incapacitating injuries in children from the ages 4 to 8 in the 10-year period of the AAP study. The study showed that states with more stringent booster seat laws were associated with a 20 percent reduction in fatalities and incapacitating injuries for children four to six years old, as well as a 33 percent reduced death and incapacitating injury rate for children seven and eight years old when compared to states without the same strict laws.

The AAP also showed that children four to six, who were only secured by a lap/shoulder belt had a 20 percent greater chance of death or incapacitating injury when compared to children who were restrained in a booster seat.

In addition to securing a child's booster seat properly, one of the best way to ensure safety on the road for all passengers and other motorists is to practice preventative auto maintenance.  Car owners should be sure to have brakes, engines and their lighting & electrical systems checked before taking to the road.