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Booster Seat Preferences Research

Dr. Chuck Cunningham, child psychologist, McMaster Children's Hospital, who is the Jack Laidlaw Chair in Patient Centred Health Care at McMaster University, is a key member of the team coordinating this campaign. He is internationally recognized for his work in community education in children's issues.

Dr. Cunningham and colleagues across Canada have been studying why parents ignore booster seat regulations and what types of messages would be most effective to encourage appropriate and regulated use of booster seats. The results suggest a community campaign of education, police enforcement and societal encouragement would increase compliance.

Dr. Cunningham and his colleagues worked with the parents of 1714 children aged 4 to 9 years from 9 Canadian provinces to determine what would influence their use of booster seats.

Research finding highlights:

Policy Implication 1:  The results of our simulations support the importance of consistent enforcement. They also suggest that a warning may be as effective as more severe punitive consequences. 

Policy Implication 2:  Our overall pattern of results suggests that enforcement should be supported by advertising emphasizing: (1) the risk reduction associated with booster seat use, (2) noting that many other parents are using booster seats (parents are sensitive to social norms), and (3) reminding parents that booster seat laws will be enforced.

Policy Implication 3:  Finally, previous studies suggest that many parents use booster seats incorrectly. We suggest, therefore, that linking enforcement and warnings to workshops teaching parents how to use booster seats correctly should be helpful.


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