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Canadian Paediatric Society

Booster seat legislation

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in children over a year old in Canada.33 In 2013, more than 70 children under the age of 14 were killed and more than 8,900 were injured in car crashes in Canada.34 Booster seats provide up to 60% more protection than seat belts alone.35

Although all provinces and territories have laws requiring the use of restraint systems for children up to about 4 years old, children aged 4 to 8 years often “graduate” prematurely to using seat belts, increasing their risk of injury, disability and death. In a collision, children using seat belts instead of booster seats are 3.5 times more likely to suffer a serious injury and 4 times more likely to suffer a head injury.36

According to one U.S. study, in states where the age requirement for booster seats (or harnessed child restraints) was increased to 7 or 8 years old, the rate of children who sustained fatal or incapacitating injuries in a collision decreased by 17%.37

Based on strong evidence, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that provinces and territories require children in vehicles to use an approved booster seat until they reach 145 cm in height or 9 years of age, and weigh between 18 kg and 36 kg. Legislation should be uniform across Canada to make it easier for families to comply with regulations when travelling.38 The CPS also recommends using community-based education programs to increase restraint use. Such programs help ensure that car and booster seats are properly installed and used.39

Province/Territory2012 status2016 statusRecommended actionsComments
British Columbia

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Alberta

Poor

Poor

Enact booster seat legislation.

The Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services recognize booster seats as the safest choice for children under 9 years old who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seat, and weigh between 18 kg and 36 kg or are less than 145 cm tall, but it is not legislated.

Saskatchewan

Poor

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Manitoba

Fair

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Ontario

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Quebec

Good

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

New Brunswick

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Nova Scotia

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Prince Edward Island

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Excellent

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Yukon

Fair

Good

Require children to be in an approved booster seat until they reach 145 cm in height or 9 years of age and weigh between 18 kg and 36 kg.

Northwest Territories

Poor

Poor

Enact booster seat legislation.

Government website provides advice on child occupant restraints with heights/weights according to CPS recommendations, but there is no legislation.

Nunavut

Poor

Poor

Enact booster seat legislation.

The CPS recognizes that few people own cars in Nunavut.

Excellent

Province/territory requires children to be in an approved booster seat until they reach 145 cm in height or 9 years of age and weigh between 18 kg and 36 kg. Public education programs are in place.

Good

Province/territory requires children to be in an approved booster seat until they reach the height of 145 cm or a specified age younger than 9 years and a weight between 18 kg and 22 kg. Public education programs are in place.

Fair

Province/territory requires the use of a booster seat after children have outgrown their front-facing safety seat, but legislation is based on age and/or weight criteria without mentioning height. Public education programs are in place.

Poor

Province/territory has no booster seat legislation for children weighing over 18 kg.

Endnotes

  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. Analysis of mortality data from Statistics Canada (unpublished).
  2. Government of Manitoba. Booster seats and child car seats: www.gov.mb.ca/healthyliving/hlp/injury/booster.html (accessed April 20, 2016).
  3. Yanchar NL, Warda LJ, Fuselli P; Canadian Paediatric Society, Injury Prevention Committee Child and youth injury prevention: A public health approach. Paediatr Child Health 17(9):511.
  4. Winston FK, Durbin DR, Kallan MJ, Moll EK. The danger of premature graduation to seat belts for young children. Pediatrics 2000;105(6):1179-83.
  5. Eichelberger AH, Chouinard AO, Jermakian JS. Effects of booster seat laws on injury risk among children in crashes. Traff Inj Prev 2012;13:631–9.
  6. van Schaik C; Canadian Paediatric Society, Injury Prevention Committee. Transportation of infants and children in motor vehicles. Paediatr Child Health 2008;13(4):313-8.
  7. Ehiri JE, Ejere HOD, Magnussen L, Emusu D, King W, Osberg SJ. Interventions for promoting booster seat use in four to eight year olds travelling in motor vehicles. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006;(1):CD004334.