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Placing Blame


Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.41.56 PMMy somewhat extreme fear of death is one of the main reasons I got involved in child passenger safety many years ago. Perhaps your reasoning is similar. It’s impossible to discuss why we do this without expressing a desire to prevent injury and, of course, death. 

I spend a lot of time discussing car seats on social media (Facebook and message boards like car-seat.org), and quite often, someone will post a story about a child who was critically hurt or killed in a car crash. That leads to the inevitable discussion about how the child was restrained. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we speculate, but the sense I get from these posts is that people are always quietly shaking their heads and thinking the parents could have or should have done better. 

Sometimes that’s true. There are cases of gross neglect, where a drunk parent drives around with a completely unrestrained kid, and bad things happen. Other times, a caring parent makes the same inadvertent mistakes we technicians see every day: a seat was installed too loosely, perhaps, or the harness wasn’t buckled properly. Maybe a parent turned a child forward-facing “too soon” (which I put in quotes since the legal requirements are different than the suggested requirements, and it’s hard to fault a parent for doing something within their rights).

Given the rate of misuse—which varies from 75% to 90% depending on what stats you look at—it is likely that almost every child involved in a crash could have been restrained better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the misuse caused the injuries. It’s also sometimes impossible to determine misuse after the fact. In a severe (or even moderate) crash, seatbelts and LATCH straps can stretch and seats can shift. Although possibly somewhat irrational, one of my worst fears is getting in a crash with my kids, and an uneducated officer making a statement about how my children were improperly restrained simply because they see something they’ve never seen before. A rear-tethered Britax? A Coccoro with European belt routing? A rear-facing 3-year-old? Those could easily be seen as misuse by someone unfamiliar with certain seats or best practice.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.42.14 PMI find threads about serious crashes interesting but largely uncomfortable due to the implied (and sometimes overt) contempt that is shown for many of the parents involved. Yes, perhaps the child would still be alive or uninjured if things had been done differently, but acting sanctimonious about how much better “we” do things doesn’t win anyone over. We wind up being Monday-morning quarterbacks to someone else’s tragedy, and that feels wrong.

At the same time, I understand why it happens. We’re all terrified of losing our kids, and as long as we do things differently, our kids will be ok. Except that there are no guarantees. Yes, properly restraining a child reduces the likelihood of injury or death, but nothing can eliminate it. It’s hard facing the reality that there are some things we just can’t control, which leads us to grasp so tightly to the things we can.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss tragic collisions. It helps us learn, it helps us educate, and sometimes it helps us cope. But we need to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions or place unnecessary blame. When we discuss crashes, we should think and speak with compassion, not contempt. Saying “I told you so” won’t bring back a child and won’t save our own.

CarseatBlog Chopped: Putting Faud to the Test


Darren has posted about his family’s faud recipe a few times now (you can read about it here and here). If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched those videos and thought, “Ehhh…” I mean, there’s noting like thick, pale, gluey gruel to get the mouth watering, right?

Well, last December I went over to Darren’s to try this elusive faud for myself. I’ll admit I was apprehensive, but as long as a dish doesn’t contain fish eyes, mushrooms, or anything still living, I’m generally game.

Here’s what happened when I tried it:

In case anyone’s wondering, those cookies were absolutely delicious! Not overly sweet, so you could eat a bunch without feeling too guilty. At least that’s what I told myself.

Holiday Cooking with CarseatBlog


You may remember our previous edition of Cooking with CarseatBlog.  That was certainly a tough recipe to follow, but this year we’ve outdone ourselves!  He ate them up, and one of mine, too.  Enjoy.



Editors note: Don’t buy this cheap imitation cookie “iron“.  It’s not even an Iron, it’s an Aluminum.  Seriously!

Throwback Thursday: Seeing Green


Traffic_light_redTraffic lights are pretty predictable these days. Throughout the country, they’re more or less the same: red, yellow, green. Some might be vertical while others are horizontal, and some places might use arrows more than others, but nothing is too surprising about traffic lights in general.

It wasn’t always like that, though. At one point, traffic was more likely to be directed by police officers than by automated lights. Some places only had two colors, while others had four. Some included “stop” and “go” signs that popped out when the colors changed, and sometimes yellow would appear before red and before green. Crazy, huh?

This 1937 video explores the inner workings of old-timey traffic lights and the cities that used them. Enjoy!