Distracted Driving

textingdrivingI had to run some errands today, the first of which involved getting on the freeway. I don’t particularly like merging onto this freeway because it’s a two-lane feeder and I either get blown off the road by someone going well over the speed limit or stuck behind poke-along-Stanley. Today it was poke-along-Stanley going 10 mph under the speed limit, made extra frustrating because he had his cell phone butt 4” away from his mouth talking speaker-phone style, selfishly oblivious to the fact there were cars around him.

My state has had a hands-free law for a year and a half now that is widely ignored. With a first offense penalty of $50, why not? The real cost comes from the time lost it takes to actually be pulled over to receive the ticket. Only after the third offense does the fine become $250, a bit more painful. According to authorities, ticket-writing has gone up 93% this year over the same time period last year. Ninety-three percent! And I still don’t go through an intersection without seeing at the very least 3 drivers using their cell phones in some manner. No one can say why drivers are still ignoring the hands-free law, other than they simply don’t see it as a deterrent. Apparently it’s easy to gripe about how poorly everyone drives while using their cell phones, yet still continue to practice the bad habit.

It’s been shown that using a cell phone while driving reduces concentration on driving by 37%. That’s a little over a third for those of us who aren’t mathematically inclined. Imagine taking a test in school and having a third of your score chopped off. That’s an automatic D on your test right there. Is anyone really satisfied with a D on a test?

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement hand-held cell phone bans. Thirty-seven states and D.C. ban all cell use by beginning drivers, though only 20 states and D.C. ban it for school bus drivers. Shouldn’t all states ban school bus drivers from using cell phones? That’s a pretty scary statistic. The picture of a school bus driver chatting away on her cell phone while pandemonium breaks out behind her isn’t a pleasant one. And hang out on a corner next to a high school when it gets out for the day and you know that new drivers aren’t staying off their phones: 71% of teens have typed text messages while driving and 78% of them have read one while driving. Now those are scary statistics!

How many of us have seen what we thought for sure was a drunk driver, weaving in and out of a lane, only to catch up toCell-Stop-Sign-10x15 see it was a texting driver? Forty-three states and D.C prohibit texting by drivers. That doesn’t seem to matter much to the texter, though. They just have to get that message sent, regardless of how many lanes they take up or how many lives they take in the process. Someone who is texting is 23 times more likely to be in a crash than someone who is not distracted by texting.

We can preach all we want about not using our cell phones and not texting and driving, but it’s time to get real and own up to it.  One option is a portable hands-free device, like the one Darren reviewed recently.  My Acura MDX has a Bluetooth feature that I make use of so I don’t need to touch my phone while I drive, but it’s still clunky trying to find someone in my phonebook to make a call.  If I have to make a call, I pull over. It’s that simple. To answer a call, it’s a push of a button—much easier. I’m fortunate that I don’t get many calls on my cell, maybe one every other month when I’m in the car. I used to text only at red lights while my brakes were applied, but I decided I didn’t like that feeling of not knowing what was going on around me. They were always quick texts: “on my way,” “what do you want at store,” that kind of thing. But even though I was stationary, I was still distracted. A driver should always be scanning the roadway whenever the car is near others. Besides, the real point is to be a good example for my kids. They aren’t in the car with me much anymore, but when they are, I don’t want them seeing me using my phone. I’ve never been a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of parent and I’m not about to start with my cell phone. My rule-following son won’t be a problem; my daughter, on the other hand . . . We may have to invest in some in-vehicle cameras. That will no doubt be fodder for another blog in the future.

There are lots of resources I plan on sharing with my kids when they start to drive, and that’s coming sooner than I’d like to think. NHTSA has distraction.gov where you can find out your state law on cell phone use, research, a pledge you and your kids can take, and survivor videos. AT&T has the It Can Wait no texting and driving campaign. If you have an Android phone, AT&T offers 2 free apps called AT&T DriveMode and Safely Go. AT&T DriveMode sends a customizable response to incoming texts letting your friends know you’re driving. Safely Go auto-replies to texts and auto-sends your calls to voicemail. Let’s not forget that AT&T has the “From One Second to the Next” documentary that follows 4 survivors of texting-causes crashes that will change your view of “yeah, but it’s only a quick text” forever. Impatience has gotten the best of me at times, but this is definitely one area where I keep the phone down. It’s not worth it. Is it worth it to you?


Blogiversary Celebration Giveaway: Evenflo “Platinum” SecureKid DLX – the coolest ride in town

Even though it’s our Blogiversary, this celebration isn’t about us – it’s about YOU. We know we’re lucky to have so many awesome readers and followers who all care deeply about keeping kids safe in and around motor vehicles. We want to reward you for supporting us throughout these past 6 years and the best reward we could think of was another incredible giveaway promotion!

This week we’ve partnered with our generous friends at Evenflo to offer a fabulous, Platinum SecureKid DLX!  This deluxe model offers all of the premium features of the Evenflo SecureKid DLX (“e3″ side-impact protection, auto-retracting “SureLATCH” connectors, height-adjustable head support and dual integrated cupholders), plus it features buckle pockets to hold the buckle tongues out of the way when loading/unloading child and it offers Outlast® temperature-regulating fabric to keep kids cool in the sweltering summer heat!

This promotion is now closed. Thank you for participating – a winner will be announced soon!

Platinum SecureKid DLX Specs:

  • With 5-point harness: Forward-facing only for kids 22-65 lbs, at least 1 year old, height 28- 50″ tall (shoulders must be at or below top harness slots). *Please keep in mind that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that all kids under 24 months ride in a rear-facing carseat. For this reason we recommend this seat for kids who are at least 2 years old.
  • As a booster: 40-110 lbs, at least 4 years old, height 43 – 57″ (top of ears must be below the top of CR headrest).

OUTLAST® Performance Fabrics absorb hot and cold temperature, releasing as needed. Outlast® technology, originally developed for NASA, utilizes phase change materials (PCM) that absorb, store and release heat for optimal thermal comfort.

This technology has the ability to:

  • Actively absorb and store excess heat, helping to reduce overheating
  • Allow the child to stay at a balanced temperature and prevent chilling during the cooler months; if the child’s skin temperature drops, the stored heat is released
  • Reduce perspiration so the child stays drier and more comfortable

The thermal image below shows the difference in body temperature after 30 minutes of sitting in the same style carseat – one with OUTLAST®  fabric and one with regular fabric. If you live in a warm climate or just have a kid who is a sweatbox – this technology will help keep your kiddo feeling comfortable all year round.

Buckle Pockets have been added to this “Platinum” SecureKid model and that’s a major bonus if you hate having to fish the buckle tongues out from underneath your child every time you put them in the seat. They also keep the metal buckle tongues out of direct sunlight when your car is parked which helps to prevent them from heating up to the point where they might actually burn your child as you’re buckling him/her up.

Installation – The SecureKid DLX is super easy to install with the self-ratcheting SuperLATCH connectors which is a real bonus if you move your seats from vehicle-to-vehicle frequently. For more details please see our full review of the Platinum SecureKid DLX here. We think highly of the Evenflo SecureKid and it’s on our list of Recommended Seats.



Winner must have a U.S. shipping address. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms)

Winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize.  Only one prize will be awarded.

You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.comduring 2013 or 2014 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned). Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count.

We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason.

The contest will close on July 22, 2014, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Good luck!

CarseatBlog’s Updated List of Recommended Carseats for Preemies & Multiples!

Huggable Images Preemie Doll in Cosco Light 'n ComfyWe’re happy to announce that we’ve updated our list of Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples! Since we last updated that list, we’ve reviewed (or are in the process of reviewing) several new or updated infant seats that we feel comfortable adding to the list. And even one convertible seat!

Please join me in welcoming the Cosco Light n’ Comfy Elite, Evenflo SecureRide 35 (aka Serenade), Graco SnugRide 35 LX Click Connect, Graco SnugRide 40 Click Connect, Nuna PIPA, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35UPPAbaby MESA and the Maxi-Cosi Pria Convertible (specifically, the model with the TinyFit insert).

All of these seats have a minimum weight rating of 4 lbs, fit our Huggable Images preemie doll well, are easy to use correctly and are relatively easy to install properly in a variety of vehicles.  While many parents may not think fitting a 4 lb. preemie is important, we know from experience that babies sometimes come earlier than expected and are well under the typical 7 pound newborn size.  We have links to the full reviews for each of these seats as well as other important information on our page dedicated to preemies and carseat issues.

Additionally, we’re very pleased that four of the seats now on the list are priced under $100! The Cosco Light n’ ComfyEvenflo Embrace LXSafety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus and Safety 1st onBoard 35 are all “budget-friendly” carseats.  And let’s face it – price and value are always important but those factors take on special meaning if you’re operating on a tight budget and/or if you’re faced with the reality of having to buy two, three (or more!) of everything.

Here at CarseatBlog we really appreciate the fact that CR manufacturers are paying more attention to the needs of preemies and low birthweight babies. With fourteen infant carseats and one convertible now on our list, in all different price ranges, this is a giant leap in the right direction. We have several other seats under review at the moment so hopefully we’ll be able to recommend a few more options in the near future!

Diono Rainier Convertible plus Booster Preview

The new convertible+booster lineup from Diono features deeper side wings than the previous Radian models and some other minor changes. In the head area, a compression wall design features a rigid double wall structure for enhanced side-impact protection. The outside wall compresses under load to absorb additional energy in an impact, enhancing side-impact crash performance without increasing width. New fabrics on certain models wick moisture for comfort. The harness webbing is slightly different and the seat now comes with 2 sets of harness strap covers.

The Diono Rainier, Paifica & Olympia are either currently shipping or coming soon to Amazon.com and specialty retailers.  Stay tuned for the Diono Rainier review at CarseatBlog!


Diono Rainier Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing 5-50 lbs.; or outgrown by height when there is less than 1.5″ of shell above child’s head or child reaches 44″
  • Rear-facing lower LATCH anchor limit is 35 lbs. (once child weighs more than 35 lbs. you must install with seatbelt)
  • Forward-facing 20-90 lbs.; or outgrown by height when top of child’s ears are above top of restraint or child reaches 57″
  • Forward-facing lower LATCH anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. (once child weighs more than 40 lbs. you must install with seatbelt and tether, if tether is available)
  • Booster 50-120 lbs.; up to 57″
  • 5 sets of harness slots
  • 3 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Aluminum reinforced headrest
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • SafeStop load-limiting device (only use with forward-facing children who weigh less than 40 lbs.)
  • Rear-facing tether capability
  • Heavy-duty SuperLATCH lower anchor connectors
  • Comes with 2 sets of harness strap cover – usage is mandatory (use one set for children under 65 lbs; other set for children over 65 lbs.)
  • FAA certified for use on aircraft
  • Folds flat for travel or storage
  • When used with harness seat has 8 year lifespan before expiration; when used without harness in booster mode seat may be used up to 12 years (4 extra years)

The Diono Rainier is packed with features but does it pass the ultimate test by pleasing a finicky rear-facing 4-year-old?


Edited to add: Here are a few comparative pics showing the Diono Rainier next to the previous generation Diono Radian R120. Even though it looks much wider, the Rainier is actually only 1″ wider but the widest point is now up at the top. The side walls of Rainier are also considerably deeper than its Radian predecessors.

Side-by-side Diono Rainier & Diono Radian R120

Back-to-back Diono Radian R120 & Diono Rainier

Back-to-back Diono Radian R120 & Diono Rainier

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Back-to-back Diono Radian R120 & Diono Rainier

Happy Independence Day from your friends at CarseatBlog!

Happy 4th of July