Drive Safely for a Happy Thanksgiving!


Throughout the year, parents are bombarded with messages from traffic safety websites and social media about how to keep yourselves and your kids as safe as possible.  “Keep them in a harness as long as possible”, “The center seat is safest”, “Buy Brand X deluxe carseat”, just to name a few.  The advice comes with the best intentions, but ultimately much of it is just icing on the proverbial cake.  So what is the ingredient list for the actual cake?  It’s simple.

Please, when driving this holiday weekend, there are only two fundamentally critical steps to the keeping-your-family-safe-on-the-road recipe:

  1. Drive unimpaired and undistracted
  2. Make sure all passengers are properly restrained with kids 12 and under in the back seat.

Those two simple steps will reduce your risk of serious injury considerably and are by far the most important things you can do to keep your kids safe.

ThanksgivBam_72dpiRGBAccording to the NHTSA and a recent Forbes article, Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest holidays in terms of fatal crashes.  In 2012, it was the deadliest, more than Christmas or Independence Day.  The main causes?  You guessed it.  Drunk driving and failure to wear a seatbelt.

By all means, we encourage families to keep their kids rear-facing as long as possible in a deluxe carseat in the center of their minivan.  Why not take every precaution?  But just the two critical steps above will save many lives.  And remember, even if you won’t be drinking and driving, someone who is may be swerving at you.  So don’t be looking at your phone or sending a text!

With early snowstorms and cold weather in some areas already, here are a few extra tips:

Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and Black Friday from CarseatBlog!

More tips from the NHTSA – Images courtesy of NHTSA.



What Is An All-in-One / 3-in-1 / 4-in-1 Carseat?


Graco 4Ever - StudioAll-in-One. 4-in-1. 3-in-1. Does it all. Last carseat you’ll ever need.

These promises sound exciting, don’t they? After all, you’ve probably shelled out over $100, maybe even close to $300 for a rear-facing only infant seat that only fit your child for about a year and now you have to buy another carseat already. Your kid keeps growing, wouldn’t it be nice to buy only one more carseat and be done with it all? Perhaps.

We need to get some basic terms out of the way since I’ll be addressing them frequently in this article. There are two types of carseats we’ll be discussing: convertible and combination. A convertible carseat is one that rear-faces or forward-faces, so it’s appropriate for newborns through preschoolers generally. A combination carseat is a forward-facing only carseat with a harness that can be removed to become a belt-positioning booster. Sometimes combo seats are called harnessed boosters. It’s all marketing, but the official class of seat is combination.

Let’s discuss what an all-in-one / 3-in-1 / 4-in-1 carseat is. These days it can be a convertible carseat or a combination carseat. An all-in-one carseat is one that “does it all.” This convertible carseat will go from infant to booster: rear-facing, forward-facing, and high-back booster. A 3-in-1 carseat does the same: rear-facing, forward-facing, and high-back booster. But a 3-in-1 carseat can also be a combination seat: forward-facing-only harness, high-back booster, and backless booster. Oh. That’s getting complicated. What about the 4-in-1 carseat? Well, that is a convertible carseat: rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster, AND backless booster.

What does one of these seats NOT do? It does NOT have a harness weight limit of 100 or 120 lbs. That’s a very common misconception. The carseat manufacturers are doing a much better job of labeling the boxes for their separate modes, but as you look at the pictures below, I think you’ll see why it’s easy to see why the harness might go to a super high weight limit. It doesn’t.

So we have the convertible vs. combination terminology out of the way and we know what an all-in-one vs. a 4-in-1 carseat is (er, basically the same thing, right?). Now let’s have some practice looking at these seats and their boxes so you know in the store *before* you buy if the carseat is appropriate for your 9 month old (of course, you could always consult our Recommended Carseats List and know which seats are appropriate right now and find one that will work for you!).

Questions to Ask Before You Shop

Does it have a rear-facing belt path? (Only if you are shopping for a rear-facing seat obviously.)

How long do I reasonably expect my child to use this seat?

Do I really want a carseat that I will be using for over 6 years? (Because really, what other piece of baby gear gets used for that long, let alone a safety device?)


The Evenflo Symphony LX is an all-in-one seat. It says so on the labels and on the box. Check out the label: 5-110 lbs. That’s misleading, because it makes you think the harness will take your child from 5-110 lbs., right? Wrong. It’s 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing, and 40-110 lbs. as a belt-positioning booster. There is a rear-facing belt path opening under where the child’s legs would sit, so you know it’s a convertible carseat. You could use this carseat from your child’s birth, provided he’s big enough.

Symphony LX box front Symphony LX box side


2016 Kia Sorento Video+Photo Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety


2016 Kia Sorento SUV Review

2016KiaSorentoThe all-new 2016 Kia Sorento is a great option for families who want a slightly smaller vehicle with a third row of seating.  It’s bigger and safer than the previous Sorento.  That gives it a big advantage over compact SUVs, and it’s more maneuverable with better handling than the larger midsize models.  Perhaps best of all, it gets top crash test results.  That means a “Good” score in every rating from the IIHS and a “5-star” rating in all 5 crash test results from the NHTSA.  It earns an impressive 5-star overall NHTSA rating AND a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS*.  The 2016 model would have qualified as a Top Safety Pick+ on Limited models with the Technology package under previous year’s IIHS requirements, but their new ratings require a front crash prevention system with “advanced” performance to qualify for the “Plus” award.  The optional system on the Sorento Limited only earns a “basic” performance rating.


*Correction: Sorento Limited w/ Tech package does NOT earn a Top Safety Pick+ award

As for carseats, there are a couple quick takeaways.

On Pace for a Deadly Year


Crash SceneWe’ve seen a steady decline in traffic deaths over the past couple decades, but according to a recent study by the National Safety Council, 2015 might be different. In the first half of the year, traffic deaths were up 14% compared to the same period in 2014, and serious injuries were up 30%. If things continue at this pace, 2015 will be the deadliest driving year since 2007.

What accounts for this increase in deaths and injuries? More driving.

A stronger economy, lower unemployment, and lower gas prices mean that more people are able to drive more miles for business and pleasure. The increased traffic leads to increased opportunities for crashes.

The NSC reminds people to take steps to increase safety, such as buckling up on every trip, using designated drivers, getting plenty of sleep, and never using cell phones. It probably goes without saying, but part of “buckling up” should include using proper child restraints, too.

This study might seem like grim news, but it’s important to remember how far vehicle safety has come in the past few decades, and even in the past few years. Advances in technology like air bags, blind spot avoidance systems, and back-up cameras mean that cars today are safer than they’ve ever been. Some good defensive driving and proper restraints can help make sure you and your family are as safe as possible this holiday season.