Ill-Fitted Booster Seats Can Be Dangerous

When Kyle Miller died in a car accident, his parents researched car seat safety.

ByABC News via via logo
February 9, 2009, 10:29 AM

Oct. 1, 2007 — -- Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And with school back in session, lots of kids are on the road.

In 34 states and Washington, D.C., children are required to ride in booster seats up until they reach about age 4 and 40 pounds.

Booster seats can save lives. But one family said they're not good enough and there's a better alternative.

Kevin and Christine Miller's 3-year-old son Kyle was killed when another driver ran a red light and struck the family's minivan.

"It just happened so fast. I mean, there was just no reaction time," Kevin said. "By the time we noticed it, it had hit us."

At the time of the accident, Kyle and his sister Katie were strapped in their booster seats with the car's seat belts fastened around them.

"But when we turned around, Kyle wasn't in the car at all," Kevin said. "His seat was gone. He was gone."

Somehow his seat belt had become unfastened on impact.

Kyle's tragic death sparked his mother to research information on car seats.

"I started searching online and I found these higher weight harness car seats and realized that nobody knew that these car seats existed," Christine said.

Now the Millers believe a car seat like the one they use now, which is attached to the car and has a five-point harness, might have saved their son's life. This design differs from a booster seat, which is not attached to car and the car seatbelt actually secures the child.

So the couple set up a foundation to educate others and give car seats to families who need them. In addition, they edited a tribute video for Kyle and placed it online, where it already has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.

The Millers have found their foundation already has succeeded.

"We received an e-mail from a mom whose child had been in an accident similar to ours," Christine said. "He had previously been in a booster seat. But because of Kyle's video, she put him in a five point harness and he walked away without a scratch."

And while their activism is unable to replace the loss of their son, the Millers see informing others about car seat safety as its own reward, because it honors Kyle.

"It lets me know that what we are doing really is affecting people," Christine said. "It's not just making people smile and feel good, but really is saving lives."

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