Thursday, 16 October 2008

Car Seat Rant, Part 2

My last rant provoked a much more intense discussion than I anticipated. What it also did was remind me of other reasons why car seat legislation gets under my skin.

Take these simple statistics. 75 to 90% of all car seats are installed incorrectly. We are required by law to use these devices, and can be fined (and I assume be criminally liable if death or serious injury result) if improperly used.

But yet, the vast majority of parents cannot install car seats properly. Why not? Because it is not a simple process. Variances in automobile seat design and child car seat design make it hard to make a perfect match. So much so, that only a police officer can truly determine if a car seat has been installed correctly. (Which begs the question, if you have to remove the car seat, which I frequently do, does that not mean you should run back to the police station for inspection every time you put it back in?)

One of the things you will be told is to prop up your car seat on cut down pool noodles to ensure the proper angle. Oh and make sure your car is on a flat surface as a slope will make it hard to get that proper angle. Though I was never shown how to use a protractor or other measuring tool to ensure that angle. For some reason its OK to eyeball it.

Then you have to make sure it is tightened down properly. This pretty much involves crawling into the car seat yourself to put your full weight on it, if possible brace your back against the ceiling and reef on the tightening strap with every ounce of muscle you possess.

And according to the statistics, you still fucked it up. And if you are one of the fortunate few, the seat has probably been recalled.

Any system that despite our best efforts has a failure rate of 75 to 90% is a flawed system. We're supposed to be installing these damned things to keep our children safe, but 75% to 90% of the time it ain't making a difference. An improperly installed car seat is no better than no car seat at all.

Oh, and plan on only have one kid, as the safest place for an infant car seat is in the middle of the back seat, facing the rear. This puts your baby as far as possible from the impact of a head-on crash (the most common type of crash). That pretty much precludes junior having a sibling. (There's one middle spot in the back seat after all). Because both kids will be at greater risk of death or injury than just one.

The system is so over anal-yzed, that the very rules that are supposed to keep our children safe are getting in the way and making it harder for parents to properly secure their children.

And yet my son was allowed to bounce up and down in the back of a school bus on the 401 from Milton....

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