A recent study from the Boston Children's Hospital's Division of Emergency Medicine showed that national standards requiring children 4 feet 9 inches and under to sit in booster seats while driving a car would save lives.

The study reviewed 9,848 cases over a 10 year period and showed that states with booster seat laws for children ages 4 to 6 had nearly a 20 percent lower rate of incidence of death and incapacitating injuries from motor vehicle crashes when compared to states without booster seat laws. The risk of death was significantly reduced for children age 6 to 7. Those children's rate of death decreased by 35 percent in states with booster seat laws when compared to states without similar laws.

Rebekah Mannix, of Boston Children's Division of Emergency Medicine and lead author on the paper, said that this booster seat use for children under the age of 8 or 4 feet 9 inches should be more than a causal suggestion.

"At the end of the day we all want children to be safe," said Lois Lee, co-author on the study. "Data show booster seat laws help protect children, and we hope it can convince lawmakers to adopt laws that require kids to be in the proper child passenger restraint (car seat and booster seat) until the recommended age and height."

A separate study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that stricter booster seat laws decrease fatalities and incapacitating injuries in children from New Orleans ages 7 and 8 by 33 percent when compared to states without the laws.

"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."

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

Parents should also practice preventative maintenance on their cars to decrease the risk of accidents. Brakes and engine checks can be conducted for low rates at local auto body shops.