It was back in 1999 when I became frustrated with child safety seats. My son was born in 1998. We had a Century Smart Fit Plus infant carrier and extra base. It fit well enough in my car and an extra base seemed to fit fine in my wife’s car, too. The following year, I moved my son into a rear-facing convertible.
I went right back to Century and bought a SmartMove convertible seat. I had some problems installing it. Well, I couldn’t install it. Little did I know at the time that the SmartMove was one of the most difficult child safety seats to install and that my car (a 1991 Saturn SL2 sedan) was one of the more difficult vehicles for installation, too. That combination made it impossible for me to get it installed correctly. As an engineer, I was astonished that cars and carseats could be designed so poorly that they simply would not work together.
I went to the internet. I searched. I posted on the usenet Saturn newsgroup and elsewhere. I found a toll free number for the helpful people at NHTSA’s Dash-2-dot line. I ended up returning the Smartmove and buying a Britax Roundabout that worked much better. The Evenflo Horizon V and Fisher Price Safe Embrace were also suggested to me as options that might work. Funny thing about the internet. Everything is archived! I even had the seat inspected at my local police department.
That episode began my interest in child passenger safety. After my son was 1 year and 20 pounds, I turned him forward facing in a Cosco High Back Booster with a 5-point harness, at the time a top-rated model in a leading consumer magazine! I didn’t like it very much. How could such a highly rated model be so difficult for an average parent to install and use?
I then became very interested in the upcoming LATCH system that promised better compatibility. I decided to make a web page about it. In fact, I decided to make a few webpages to help parents find the same resources that I found to be helpful. I also wanted to create a discussion forum where parents could ask questions without having to register and without having to see any pop-ups or other advertisements. That High Back Booster was eventually replaced by a LATCH-equipped Century Next Step DX. I liked that seat enough that I wrote my first carseat review about it!
On April 8th, 2001, I registered http://www.car-safety.org/ and http://www.car-seat.org/ forums and they went live within 24-48 hours after that. Later that year, I attended my first CPS conference, became certified as a technician and also become co-ordinator of our county’s Safe Kids program. It’s now 10 years later, and these websites are now among the busiest independent websites on the topic! In March, just the forum alone generated over 220,000 unique visitors who viewed 7.6 million pages of information! Car-Safety.org compiled over 61,000 unique visitors who viewed nearly 100,000 pages of information in March.
In 2007, I started CarseatBlog (almost 50,000 unique visitors and nearly 200,000 pages in March), though we didn’t start blogging regularly until the next year. Also in 2007, I had to begin accepting subscriptions and advertising, as hosting costs for the websites had become too expensive to continue to pay on my own. You can still post a question without registration, though thanks to spammers, there is a delay from when you submit a guest post to the time when it appears to the public after being approved by a moderator.
Anyone interested can read more facts about the forums in this post. There is also some history of the forums posted here. Thank you to every single visitor and member who has made Car-Seat.Org a success! Its main goal remains the same as 10 years ago. To help parents find the information they need to protect their children from their #1 cause of fatal injury!