National Child Passenger Safety Week

This week is National Child Passenger Safety week. First off, National Seat Check Saturday is coming up on September 24th. It is always a good idea to get your car seat checked. If you are worried about crowds, most cities have a year round car seat program. Check with your local fire department, police department or highway/state patrol.

I imagine I am going to see a lot of posts about Extended Rear Facing (ERF) this week and it is a topic I have mixed feelings about. I think it is great to keep your child safe and safer, don’t get me wrong. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed their recommendation for children to be riding rear facing until age 2. There is some talk of states changing their laws to reflect this change as well. Which is good. But then I imagine that ERF will continue past age 2, and there will be a push for 3/outgrows the seat.

There is a long standing family joke that if the current carseat regulations had been in place (without the age qualifiers), my friend Al would have been in a booster seat well into her teens.

I have no issue with ERF, we turned Spencer before 2 because he was approaching the height maximum on his seat. I was concerned about him maxing out his seat, which seems less safe than riding in a car seat forward facing.

A lot of things seem less safe than forward facing. I also think mom’s need to be better drivers.

Over the last month, I have seen (in person or related in tweets)*:

  • children not in carseats
  • carseat chest straps buckled and pushed down towards child’s waist
  • parents texting and driving with kids in the car
  • parents talking on cell phones (not hands free) with kids in the car
  • parents drinking and driving with kids in the car
  • parents smoking with kids in the car
  • parents speeding with kids in the car
  • parents drinking and driving without kids in the car
  • use of mounted mirrors in the car to see kids in car seats**

A lot of things seem less safe than forward facing. It doesn’t matter what direction the car seat is facing if the child isn’t in it.  I also think moms need to be better, more cautious, less distracted drivers, because not being in an accident in the first place is the best way to prevent accident-related injury or death.

* Everything but the mirrors is illegal in California.

** I mean mirrors as a cause of distracted drivers, but could also be a potential projectile in an accident and hasn’t been crash tested. And before people say that they just glance in the mirror for a second at their babies, I would like to point out that the same exact line of reasoning is used about distracted driving and cell phones and that has been proven unsafe.

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7 Responses to “National Child Passenger Safety Week”

  1. Kimberly says:

    I am definitely guilty of checking the kids in the mirror, and I need to get better at that. It’s either the “please Lord, let them be asleep” check or the “we’re almost there- don’t fall asleep” check. The carseat buckle thing is a HUGE deal for me though. I had a friend tell me that JD’s seat straps were too tight for her infant. Um no- they’re supposed to be snug. Every time I see a kid in a carseat on Teen Mom, I’m screaming at the tv.

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  2. Suzanne says:

    The thing about junk in your car becoming a projectile in an accident is something that is almost never mentioned. A rear facing kid can get hit in the face with a sippy cup or a grocery bag just as hard as a forward facing kid, but instead of spreading the word about keeping your car clean people ALWAYS focus on ERF. There are so many safety concerns regarding kids and cars (and can someone get my kid to stop running away in parking lots??!?) I hate that all the awareness goes to just one thing.

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    Amy Reply:

    And strollers. Talk about a projectile coming from the back of a wagon/svu/van. Did you know we’re supposed to lash them down?

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  3. April says:

    I’ve always been ultra concerned about the cleanliness of my car because I can’t help but worry about projectiles. I was initially insistent on ERF for the same reasons I was insistent on a lot of parenting things: “If you truly love your kid you will _(insert cause here)_.” Now that my toddler is 18 months, kicking and pushing the back seat, and freaking out… I’m starting to rethink this whole ERF thing. I’m going to ask my pediatrician about it at her well-child check and go from there.

    I hate how we are almost militant about some things and completely lax on others. Why don’t we focus more on poorly installed seats? Or making sure people KNOW the laws of their own state? Living in Oklahoma, I have seen SO many moms who have no idea what the laws are.

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  4. Mae says:

    I feel strongly that ERF has been the right choice for our family. Piper is 33 months old later this week, 33 pounds and still happily rear facing (because she knows nothing else). She is tall for her age and I’m hoping to keep her RF until 3 but I’m not sure we’ll make it. That being said I bought a seat with as high of a height/weight requirement as I could for RF because her dad is 6′ 3″ and she was at or near the 100th percentile for height and weight from birth (at 38 weeks). We knew we needed a seat that could RF at a higher height/weight so we bought one.

    I think other than crappy and illegal driving (all the things you mentioned above, some of which are NOT illegal where we live) (BTW how is texting while driving still not completely freaking outlawed? It baffles my mind daily.) ERF gets the attention because the guidelines were so poorly misunderstood for so long that there’s a lot of re-education that still needs to happen. I can’t even tell you the number of people who have told me that I need to turn Piper around because she’s going to get carsick or break a leg in an accident or whatever other misguided thing they can think of. And it’s not malicious. They truly don’t know that she’s safer RF than FF in that seat for now.

    I’m not saying everyone needs to rear face until kindergarten and that will save every kid in an accident of any kind anywhere, obviously that’s not the case. But I do get why it is such a hot topic. It’s a battle against misinformation in many cases. For most parents who thought they were “supposed” to turn their kids at one or even two, all it takes is one view of one of those youtube vids of a crash test and they “get it”. The returns on education for the issue can be massive.

    And the people who smoke and drink with their kids in the car or don’t use seats at all? Well let’s just say they’re not the low hanging fruit that the safety folks are looking to inform. They know they’re doing it wrong, they just don’t care. Education on ERF is not going to be the magic bullet for those folks, but then neither is anything else.

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    Amy Reply:

    I agree. I think for me, it is hard seeing so many blog posts and articles about ERF that don’t even bother to mention having the seat installed correctly. Or the chest straps. But it also could be that I just don’t have anyone who says anything to me like that. Spencer was refacing for 20 months, I think and no one said anything. We turned him around, again no comment. So, it is entirely possible that I simply don’t understand why people are so, so defensive about it.

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  5. Brigid Keely says:

    We couldn’t afford a car seat that would allow Niko to ride rear-facing past 1 year, and he’s much happier now that he can see where he’s going and also get into/out of the seat by himself.

    I’m very adamant that we keep nothing in the back seat with him because of the projectile issue– a woman I know was rear-ended and would have been fine, except that a computer in her car (which she was transporting, not like, her car’s computer or something) flew into the air and hit her hard enough to concuss her. She also had some loose tools, including a screwdriver, that went flying and damaged the car although they didn’t hit HER.

    One thing I’ve encountered with younger kids and booster seats is adults claiming that their kid doesn’t need a booster seat because “why spend money just so the kid can see out the window.” That is not what booster seats are for. Booster seats exist to make seat belts safer. A seat belt worn across the lap/chest of a child can be very dangerous to the child if the car stops suddenly/is struck because the belt will dig into the child’s torso. As the child ages, the child will develop more core muscles but until that age, the booster seat helps the seat belt work as a safety device and not something that causes massive internal injuries.

    There is a LOT of ignorance about what is safe inside cars.

    I know in my community there are people who don’t BELIEVE that car seats are necessary because they didn’t grow up using them/they aren’t used in their countries of origin, and they are not told WHY car seats are safer than seat belts/being held/etc. So they see them as a needless expense and frankly, you don’t use special restraints/child seats on buses or trains, right? So why do CARS need them? It’s an issue of appropriate education not being given to at-risk populations.

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