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Monthly Archive:: July 2011

A Comparison of Convertible Carseats Priced under $100

Budget-friendly carseats, those priced under $100, are our go-to carseats. They serve several purposes from main rides, to backup seats, to travel seats. But how do you know if you’re spending your money wisely? Just because it’s less than $100 doesn’t mean it’s cheap, so before you slap down your hard-earned bucks on a child safety seat, check out the comparison of these convertible seats that we’ve compiled for you.

Ford’s Intelligent Vehicles: The Future of Safety?

A way to avoid traffic congestion, reduce gas consumption and a potential to affect up to 81% of police-reported light vehicle crashes*?  All done with minimal cost from a few computer and communications chips?  Sound too good to be true?

It’s done by putting the equivalent of a basic smart phone into a vehicle.  This allows vehicles-to-vehicle communications at short ranges, both to each other and to infrastructure.  Stopped vehicle ahead around a blind curve?  You’ll get a warning.  Stopped traffic from a crash that just happened?  You’ll get re-routed to avoid it.

Sound too far off to care?  Ford is doubling its research in cooperation with the Department of Transportation and other auto manufacturers to produce an interoperable standard.  The goal is to turn today’s prototypes into production systems a few years from now.  With enough vehicles of all makes talking to each other, many traffic problems can be avoided.  With Ford’s tour stop in the Chicago area, I got to see it first hand.

A few videos are worth a few thousand words, though it was a lot more impressive in person than the video could re-create.  In the first video, there is a stopped blue car ahead.  We can’t see it because the black car in front of us blocks our view.  When the black car swerves to avoid the stopped car, we’d have crashed if we didn’t have advance notice from the other two vehicles that also have the system.  On the right, you can see what the software is seeing.  While the driver just gets a warning, those of us in back had the luxury of seeing the prototype software display telling us where the alerts are located.

In the next video, we get a Do Not Pass warning.

Guest Blog: Tether Anchor Weight Advice: Assessing the Risks

Is it “safer” to teach CPSTs to counsel parents to disconnect a tether at 40 pounds for a child in a high-weight-harness CR when the vehicle manufacturer does not specify a tether anchor weight limit, or to teach that a tether should be used as long as possible following the CR manufacturer’s instructions?

That is the key question that we, Safe Ride News and SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., have asked the National CPS Board (NCPSB) curriculum-writing team in our joint comments regarding updates to the curriculum.  Without any data to the contrary, it seems to us very risky to tell CPSTs to counsel CR users to disconnect a tether for a heavier or taller child in a harness CR when the CR manufacturer’s own limits are much higher.

The brief curriculum content about anchor weight limits for tethers remains for us as CPS advocates, technicians, and instructors one of the most complicated and frustrating parts of the training course.  Regarding that topic (which we emphasize is specific to tether anchors, not lower anchors), we sent an open letter to the NCPSB that was reprinted as an editorial in the May/June issue of Safe Ride News and is available on the SRN website.  We suggest that anyone interested in this topic take a look and voice their thoughts to me at dstewart@saferidenews.com.

We do want to recognize and appreciate the Herculean task that the curriculum update team has taken on.  The team is composed of the entire NCPSB (www.cpsboard.org).

Deborah Davis Stewart
Publisher, Safe Ride News

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Editor’s note:  CarseatBlog strongly recommends use of top tethers, except where clearly prohibited in writing by a weight limit or other restriction in the child restraint or vehicle owner’s manual. The lack of consensus among manufacturers, regulators, agencies and advocates about tether limits simply confuses parents.  Ultimately, this confusion can result in failure to use top tethers, especially for older kids who would benefit the most from their use.  Lacking significant published evidence, applicable standards or relevant policy statements from agencies like the AAP and NHTSA, we must have clearly stated limits in the owner’s manuals and warnings on labels if there is a real risk in using a top tether.  This allows technicians to limit their liability and most importantly, for parents to keep children as safe as possible in their vehicles.  And that, of course, is our goal.

2011 Acura MDX Review: A Great Alternative for Families

Last year I decided that it was time to give up the old Sienna. It was a fine van and still in good working condition, but it was too much vehicle for us. We’re a family of 4 with a smallish dog and don’t need an apartment on wheels. We had first bought a Sienna in 2000 when my son was 2 weeks old and my dh, Matt, spied the interior of a Sienna in a magazine. Coming from a 1989 Honda Civic Hatchback and 1996 Toyota RAV4, the Sienna was a slice of space heaven. But after owning a van for 11 years, I wanted something sexier, less mom-ish and with oomph when I stepped on the gas pedal. I had a specific set of criteria and one vehicle kept rising to the top of my list: the 2011 Acura MDX.

Vehicle Seat Covers: Comfy Coverings or Endangering Wraps?

The lowly vehicle seat cover. Often put on the seat to hide a rip or stain, or to protect upholstery for resale value, it can mean the difference between walking away from a crash or riding away in an ambulance. A bit melodramatic? Sure, I’ve been accused before, but think about it. When you put a seat cover over the top of your side torso airbags, will they deploy correctly in a side impact? In the following video, I address the issue with 3 different inexpensive vehicle seat covers on the market today.