Chances are the next time you are in the market for a child booster seat for your vehicle, Jasper would have had a hand in making the choices available safer for you and your child. The name Jasper is an acronym for Juvenile Anthropomorphic Seat-belt Position Evaluation Rig. Developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jasper weighs 45 pounds and has been designed to represent a typical six-year old. This specially designed dummy is simplifying IIHS booster evaluations and should make it easier for manufacturers to design seats that provide proper safety belt fit for young passengers.
The IIHS started using Jasper last year to measure boosters for fit during the latest round of evaluations. The organization has been rating boosters since 2008, but with a juvenile dummy that was designed to better evaluate crash results. The organization started its booster rating program after finding that many seats didn’t consistently provide children with a good belt fit.
Jasper is better suited for such evaluation because it lacks arms since they can get in the way during booster evaluations. Another difference is that the scales for seat belt fit measurement are printed directly on Jasper. That way, it can be used like a ruler without the need for additional measuring tools.
Based on the evaluation of the child booster seats using Jasper, the IIHS assigned one of four ratings to the boosters it tests: BEST BET – which provides good belt fit for typical four to eight-year olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV; GOOD BETS – which provides acceptable belt fit in most cars, minivans or SUVs; CHECK FIT – which has varied results depending on child size and vehicle model; and NOT RECOMMENDED – which doesn’t provide good belt fit and should be avoided.
For 2017, the IIHS evaluated sixteen booster seats which covered twelve distinct models with four being rated twice because they are dual-use boosters that can be used either in high-back or backless mode. Thirteen of then rated earned the highest rating of BEST BET, while none were rated NOT RECOMMENDED.
Of the 151 booster seats currently on the market, 118 have earned the BEST BET rating and nine earned the GOOD BETs. Only one booster seat currently in the marketplace has been rated NOT RECOMMENDED by the IIHS.
Prices for child booster seats range from $13 for the Harmony Youth Booster and Diono Hip up to $250 for the highback Maxi-Cosi RodiFix.
Ensuring that children are in the right kind of child restraint for their age and size is a critical step for reducing highway crash deaths which have been on the rise since 2012.