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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hot Topic: New Car Seat Recommendations

Unless you've been living under a rock and don't have internet access, you've most likely heard, seen, twittered about or had your Facebook wall plastered with comments, both for and against, the new car seat recommendations recently released by the American Academy of Pedatrics.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about them.

The recommendations, in a nutshell, are as follows:
  • Children should ride rear-facing to age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. (The old policy from 2002 cited age 12 months and 20 pounds as a minimum for when to turn a seat around.) 
  • Children should use a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • Children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they are 13 years old.
I hated when my babies were rear-facing.  That being said, I turned each and every one of them around between the ages of 12-14 months.  Oldest was likely rear-facing the longest as I was always worried about breaking her.

It's hard for me to imagine letting my child walk to the car, climb into the car and then buckling them up facing the rear.  I completely understand the reasoning behind the recommendation.  In the event of a head on collision, the seat--not the child's neck and spine--absorb much of the impact.  I'm still uncertain what happens if you're hit from behind or slammed from the side.  Is it still better to be facing the rear?

As much as it pains me to admit this, I'm short.  I'm 5'2 and my children are not tall.  They likely never will be.  My 12 year old just barely makes it out of the booster seat guidelines.   While many of her friends consistently ride in the front seat of their family vehicle, I have been adamant on the fact that she is not allowed to.  The airbag is simply too dangerous and she must be 13.

Knowing how much she balks at the idea of remaining seated in the back, the thought of putting her into a booster seems downright impossible and somewhat comical.  She is nearly the same size as me.  How can I logically impose these restrictions?  Because I said so is such a pathetic answer.

It appears the Academy would also encourage me to have my nearly 10 year old and my 7 1/2 year old in five-point harness, forward-facing car seats.  I have worked dilegently with my children teaching them the correct way to wear their seat belts, the correct way to position the belt and to never remove the shoulder belt, no matter how annoying it can be.

My son will remain in his basic booster seat until the age of 8, which is currently PA law.  At that time, he will likely graduate out of that seat, just like his sisters did before him.

I believe we all want our children to be as safe as they possibly can be while riding in a car.  I believe the Academy has done dillegent research and is providing information that all parents need to evaluate and decide on.

Personally, I don't believe that keeping my children harnessed and boostered until they are nearly driving age is going to guarantee their safetly.  Teaching children how to properly behave in a moving vehicle, how to correctly use their seat belts, and modeling good driving habits will go a long way.

But let's face it--in the United States about 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes.  That's one death every 13 minutes.  Any given day it can be us--on the way to daycare--on the way to work--on the way to the third school board meeting of the week.

We need to put down our phones.  We need to stop being in a hurry to get here and go there.  We need to think about the precious cargo in our van, in the car in front of us, the school bus behind us.

We need to remember who is watching us from the back seat.

6 random thoughts:

Rach said...

I agree whole-heartedly with everything you said!

Laura said...

Guarantee safety/survival... no. Very significantly increase the odds - studies resoundingly say yes. Being short is a risk factor, thus a reason to be extra-vigilant. It contributed to my brain and spinal cord injury when a driver ran an intersection - cars aren't designed for very My career was taken, along with most memories from that time - including my wedding day. Almost 3 *years* of cognitive rehab to recover more than I was given hope of... If more people take the statistics and safety seriously the extra measures won't be uncool, they'll be the norm. In the meantime my kids will have to be uncool. I'm keeping them as safe as I can. 5-point harness for the 7 year old, rear facing for the (tall) 21 month old and back-seat riding until they're nearly old enough to drive. :)

Aimee said...

Thanks for your post! I completely agree with you!

septembermom said...

You said it all my friend and you said it well :)

Anonymous said...

powerful last line my friend :)

Constance Reader said...

Too true! As a soon-to-be parent, I really appreciate this entry.

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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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