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Mythbusting: Once a 5-stepper, Always a 5-stepper.

While I may not be as intelligent as Jamie Hyneman, or as adorable as Kari Byron, I’ve been recruited back to CarseatBlog after a not-so-brief graduate school hiatus to do a little mythbusting—carseat style. So as a sort of geek-worship homage to Jamie, Adam, and the MythBusters crew—let’s get busting.

Myth #1: Once my child “passes” the 5-step test, they are done with boosters once and for all.

This myth comes straight out of my vast repertoire of personal experience as a mom of four.  This past Friday, I was recruited to drive my husband out of town for work.  While typically we would pile into the family minivan, it was a gorgeous Arizona day and I decided to take my 18 year old son’s little 5-speed Mazda.  Kyle’s little Mazda is great on gas and he has been safely transporting his 11 year old brother without a booster for the last few months, despite Aiden still needing a booster in our Odyssey.  As I reached the front door, I paused for a moment while Aiden’s old Paul Frank Clek Olli caught my eye over in the corner of the livingroom.  Should I…Should I not? It seems like just yesterday that Kecia outlined the 5-Step Test, using my oldest son Kyle as one of her models. Let’s do a quick review…

Kyle - 5-Step

Kyle – Passing the 5-Step Test, Circa 2009

Check…Check…Check…Check…Ut-oh.  While Aiden had been on some great adventures within our lakeside HOA community, his travels in the little Mazda had thus far been limited to a few miles here or there.  As I headed out the door for a two hour trek from Phoenix into Pinal County, I grabbed the trusty Clek Olli. In the minutes prior to arriving at our destination, a black cloud approached that would eventually result in one of the worst dust storms I have ever driven in.  Returning home with two sleeping kids, with highway visibility sometimes limited to 20 or 30 feet and in winds that were clocked at up to 60 miles per hour, I was confident in my decision to re-booster Aiden.  Because Aiden was never promoted to an adult seatbelt, returning to his booster didn’t seem like a demotion, either.

CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE, or BUSTED? I think that we can safely say that this myth is BUSTED. While your child may pass all five steps under certain conditions, longer drives, different cars, or other circumstances can change. And even though Aiden fits into the little Mazda seatbelt well, there’s no harm in him continuing to use an appropriately-fitting booster at this point. aidenprotegewm

 

Guest Blog: A kindred spirit in Groucho

While I was busy at a recent carseat check event in Mount Vernon, Washington, my husband wandered down the road to a street fair, locating a little bookstore along his way.  Being an old movie fan, “The Groucho Marx Letters” caught his eye.  The next day, as we drove 900 miles between California and Canada, we found a kindred spirit in Groucho.

TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHRYSLER CORPORATION

December 1, 1954

Dear Mr. Colbert:

My mother always told me that if I had anything of importance to discuss, to go to the top.

Each year the motor manufacturers hammer home the idea of more horsepower.  I realize a reasonable amount of power is necessary, but I think it would be much smarter if emphasis were placed on safety rather than on additional speed.  Perhaps the ads next year should read, “prettier, faster and safe.”  I also think that if a device could be installed on the carburetor (I understand there are such things) that would eliminate the belching of carbon monoxide through the city streets, the Chrysler Corporation could create an enormous amount of good will, particularly in big cities where the carbon monoxide problem is especially acute.

Every morning the front page reports of people killed in auto accidents.  A good percentage of these fatalities could be eliminated if the motorist had a reasonable amount of protection.  The average car driver in a modern automobile is a sitting duck.  There is nothing to protect him.  The records show he would be far safer on a battlefield.

Your new cars look good, but the fact of the matter is that all the new cars look good, and I firmly believe that the first automobile company that starts stressing safety instead of speed will win far more than its share of the business.

Sincerely yours,

Groucho Marx

Groucho in a Volvo three-point belt

Groucho in a Volvo three-point belt

Volvo first produced a vehicle with three-point seatbelts in 1959–5 years after Groucho’s letter to Chrysler.  Yet they were not required in all seating positions until 2007–53 years after Groucho’s letter.

Chevrolet first tested airbags in consumer vehicles in 1973, but they were only fitted in government fleet vehicles.  This was almost 20 years after Groucho’s letter.  Passive supplementary restraints were still not required in vehicles for another 15 years on passenger vehicles, and an additional 6 years (21 total) for light trucks.

Honda’s Insight, the first mass-production hybrid vehicle, was first made available in 1999; Or 45 years after Groucho’s letter.

According to the CDC, motor vehicle collisions are the #1 cause of death among individuals aged 1-34.  According to Edmunds.com, “the average car in the U.S. spews out 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from its tailpipe each year”.  It’s 2010–56 years since Groucho’s letter to Chrysler.

Sources:

The Library of Congress.  “Grouchy.” The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. 170-71. Print.

Guest Blog: I won the carseat lottery – Evenflo Momentum 65 DLX Review

It was just another sunny day as I scanned one of hundreds of spam email messages I receive weekly.  As I reached for the “d” key (I’m still retro in shell-based pine mailer) I had second thoughts.  Could it be?  I mean, in my 7 years as a carseat technician I had never actually been given anything more than a t-shirt…and yet suddenly I had won the carseat geek lottery?  Naturally, I was skeptical of Evenflo seemingly offering me a free seat just for completing my mandatory CEU units on their website, but I forwarded along my name, address, and phone number to the friendly lady on the other end of the email address–which didn’t end in .ng (Nigeria), I might add. 

The very next day, I received confirmation from Evenflo that my brand new Momentum 65 DLX would soon be en route to my Washington State address.  Now as many of you know, I’m a fickle sort of carseat technician…flirting with British Columbia one day, and Washington the next.  The Momentum 65, at the time not available in Canada, was the cherry on top for this Momentum-virgin Canuck.  Having played with the Momentum’s cousins, the Symphony and the Triumph series, I waited in anticipation for my Momentum.  So what do I think of my prize? 

Guest Blog: The latest, the greatest, and the safest.

I’ve always had to have the latest and greatest when it came to my family’s vehicles.  The new Sienna came out, and I was there.  Then the Odyssey Touring finally had my beloved (and often behated) 8th seat–guess what?  I was there!  And when you think about what vehicle manufacturer is hands-down considered creator of the safest fleet on the road, you think Volvo right?  Guess what DH drives?  Yup, I’m a safety geek through and through.

BLI to OAK via SEA

BLI to OAK via SEA

Our teenaged son will be driving next year, and I’ve spent hours, days, and perhaps even weeks, going through various safety ratings and reading reviews on all of the potential new driveway jewelry on his list.  I’m agonizing over all of the options, all the while balancing safety, fuel economy and style.  Is there a perfect car?  One that looks great, sips at the tank, AND can propel into a brick wall at 80mph without so much as a scratch on my beloved offspring?

But what could top that Volvo XC90 and Odyssey Touring in the driveway?  In fact, what vehicle could have me giving up my much-loved XC90 for something new?  What could be safer than Tank Volvo, right?  And why did I just travel 900 miles to find said vehicle?  Better yet–will I ever allow my teens to drive it?

Quassmobile

Quassmobile

We’ve had to make a few compromises.  Life is full of compromises.  Not everyone can afford the 2011 Odyssey Touring–some of us are stuck babying that 1995 Plunko Calciomamma with 7 passenger seating and 4 top tether anchors…for just a few more years. (Fingers crossed.)  The new Quassmobile has air conditioning and power doorlocks and windows–heck, it even has power mirrors.  But, a few things are missing–like top tethers.  It has none.  Zero.  Ziltch.  It’s also shy a few airbags as compared to my Odyssey–but what vehicle isn’t, right?  Okay, I have to admit–the Quassmobile is completely absent of airbagage.  Again–zero, ziltch..Naaada.

Mason w/ Porsche (Photo: Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun)

Mason w/ Porsche (Photo: Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun)

My new car is fun to drive, will tow the kids’ boat, and can navigate well off the beaten track.  Every dollar we’re able to bank by “downgrading” our vehicle is another dollar we can put towards buying the latest and greatest once again–but for the next chapter in our lives.  I gained the Quassmobile, and sometime in the next 12 months our oldest son will be behind the wheel of his own new car–and I full well anticipate that one will be nicknamed the Airbagmobile.