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Monthly Archive:: December 2009

A Critical Safety Device

Obviously, we think child safety seats are very important for protecting your children from their #1 killer, motor vehicle crashes.  There’s another safety feature just as critical and it helps protect the whole family.  It’s the one you probably never think about until it’s too late: your tires.  Especially in winter months with rain and snow common in most areas, they are even more important.  Making sure your tires have adequate tread depth and air pressure is something you should check right now.  Don’t wait until you start sliding off the road or get a blowout.  A tire that is half worn may have tens of thousands of good miles left on dry pavement, but it will lose a lot of rain and snow traction compared to a new tire with full tread.  If you live in a very rainy or snowy area, you might even consider new tires before  you get to the treadwear indicators.  And don’t forget that proper inflation not only helps for safety, but also for fuel economy!

Here is some basic information from the NHTSA on tire safety.  Also, Edmunds has a good article on tire fundamentals.  These are a great read if you haven’t thought about your tires in a while.  Good quality tires in good condition can help make sure that you never have to depend on your child safety seats or seat belts!

He Found My Stash!

Dh has only recently started griping about the number of carseats around the house.  It seems to have coincided with my blogging, lol.  Up until now, I’ve been fairly frugal with my carseat purchases: we only have 2 kids, so I’ve bought just what we needed, passing down seats as they were outgrown as well.  I’ve gotten great advice before purchasing and have liked what I bought, so no need to buy the newest seat on the market.  It’s not like they’re technology after all ;) .  I mean, I’ve bought a few seats in my time, but I don’t trade them like trading cards (you know who you dsclosetare!).  I know what you’re thinking—she’s a carseat geek and she doesn’t buy carseats?!  Well, I’ve lived vicariously through Joolsplus3 :D .

We were recently getting ready to go on a vacation and dh was trying to be helpful (funny how dhs try to be helpful, but end up being unhelpful) by collecting my ds’s clothes for the trip.  He ventured into Never Land, otherwise known as my ds’s walk-in closet.  That’s where I keep most of my stash of unused carseats.  They’re very tightly packed away in there and covered by clothing, so just a casual glance in there and you won’t see much.  I’ve got a Britax Frontier, a Marathon, an expired Roundabout, an expired original Maxi-Cosi Priori in Ziggy the zebra print (sigh, that harness adjuster puts the RA’s adjuster to shame), a Graco AirBooster, and the back portion of a Fisher Price Safe Voyage booster.  Until I moved it to the garage in September, the Britax Husky also had a home in there too.  And all was right with the world because dh stayed out of there.  Then he had to find my stash.

When “Trust Us” Isn’t Enough

trust_meterIt’s one of the many shocks for first-time parents.  The realization that there isn’t any real comparative safety information available to consumers on the plethora of different carseats currently on the market.  I remember my first carseat decision. It was spring 1997 and after surviving a particularly nasty wreck several months earlier, I was attempting to choose the “safest” carseat for my precious baby-to-be.  I had no useful information to go on and I remember feeling really lost despite the fact that there were FAR fewer choices back then.  I spent hours at different baby stores playing with seats, dismantling them, and desperately trying to make meaningful comparisons.  Unfortunately, I wound up choosing an infant seat that I found out many years later was probably seriously flawed.  Luckily, I never had to find that out the hard way like some other poor parents and their babies did.

Fast forward 12.5 years and not much has changed.  I still have no choice but to “trust” that a product I purchase to protect my 5 year old under the worst possible circumstances is  really up to the task.  While designs are continuously improving, that is going go be offset to some degree by the increased demands placed on these seats.  Apparently, it’s not enough for infants seats to be rated to 22 lbs anymore.  Now everyone wants infant seats that can be used to 30 lbs or more.  Higher weight limits, both rear-facing and/or forward-facing, are practically an expectation for any new seat that manufacturers develop today. And while we’re all happy to see this trend, you’ve gotta wonder how safe these seats are when really pushed to the max?

The Car Seat Click Tips

Throwing away car seat boxDid you just buy a car seat? Don’t throw out that box or receipt just yet! You may find out it doesn’t work quite right in your vehicle or your significant other’s vehicle and you may need to return or exchange it. If you don’t have space in your house or apartment to store the box, it’s OK to break it down and store it flat.

The last place you want to throw away a box is in the parking lot of the store where you bought the car seat. That nearly assures you that once you get the car seat home, there will be a problem with it and you’ll need to return it ;) .

Now That We Own GM and Chrysler…

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.businessweek.com/story/09/600/0601_gm.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/may2009/db20090531_215218.htm&usg=__aENLeihlbssrp8W_-gYWojLQFLk=&h=300&w=600&sz=95&hl=en&start=118&itbs=1&tbnid=b7HpIKm90_v91M:&tbnh=68&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3DGM%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D105

Plenty of things went wrong with GM and Chrysler.  From management to unions, from high wages to a perception of lower quality, from changing consumer preferences to design failures.  Well, these companies failed.  Big time.  Is it really a good idea to stick with the same way of doing business?  Keep the same management?  Keep the same union agreements?  I don’t know about that, but I do know it’s a good opportunity to finally start making safer cars.

1) Every GM and Chrysler vehicle should get top NHTSA and IIHS crash test ratings.  We have plenty of experts in the government who can advise them on how to accomplish this.  There’s no reason we should be seeing anything less than “5-stars” or “Good”, especially since the currents tests are relatively obsolete and due for updates.  They should pass any updated tests with flying colors, too.

2) Let’s make the back seats safer.  Include pre-tensioners and force limiters on seatbelts.  Include shoulder belt adjusters that work for kids.  Make sure any possible spot where a rear passenger’s head can strike has some energy absorbing capability.  Make sure those head restraints are adequate for passengers of all sizes.

3) Bring back built-in boosters and harnesses.  Make them better and easier to use.  Make them standard in minivans and family cars and include them in desirable options packages so dealers order them on other cars, too.  Work with the child seat manufacturers and co-brand them, like what is done for audio systems and other interior features.

Yeah, maybe these ideas are expensive.  Even so, the one domestic auto manufactuer we don’t own (Ford) is making advances in rear seat safety for kids.  Maybe management is afraid consumers won’t be interested.  Well, here’s a news flash, they haven’t really been interested in much of anything from these brands in decades.  Some changes are needed and this is just the tip of the iceburg.  What changes would you like to see, now that you are part owner of a major auto corporation?