A Nevada Assemblyman, John Carpenter, R-Elko, has said he will propose a bill in the 2009 legislative session requiring mandatory “training in the correct installation of child restraint seats” for parents. Unfortunately, because of legislative rules, that’s all we get behind the intention of the bill and according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Mr. Carpenter isn’t commenting on it. So I guess the big question is: Should we mandate that parents receive training in installation of car seats?
Sure, we all know that according to Safe Kids USA, the national misuse rate is around 85%. Your local percentages may be higher or lower, depending on your outreach programs. Despite our efforts here, our misuse rate is close to 99% for those that attend checkup events. We also know why those misuse rates are so high: a combination of cryptic manufacturer instructions and vehicle seat belt or LATCH complications. You do have to admit there are some car seat manufacturer instructions that are very well written.
Would mandating a class help though? The educator side of me says emphatically, “YES! We must provide education. That is how we combat ignorance and education is the key to helping people understand.” The pragmatist in me shrinks back and says, “There are so many variables to think of when considering a class like this.” Like what? Well . . .
- Who’s going to teach it?
- Where is the funding going to come from to pay the instructor?
- When do we require parents to take it?
- Where will the classes be held?
- When do we schedule classes? Not everyone works 8a-5p.
- How do we teach about seat belts? Do we group by vehicle? You with the Chryslers over there. You with the Toyotas/Hondas/Hyundais over there.
- How do we teach about LATCH? What about the center of the back seat? Oh, but wait–there’s more. What about vehicles like the G6 that have 3 sets of LATCH anchors but they overlap? You want to see someone’s head explode? LOL! Give ’em a G6 after they’ve been at work all day and they’re 8 months pregnant.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just surprised to see this pre-bill coming out of a state that doesn’t value education. It ranks 45 out of 50 in per pupil spending, its governor continues to push for cuts in education, and yet a Republican Assemblyman from a rural town in northern Nevada thinks he has a go at getting this bill started. I think I’d like to meet Mr. Carpenter. He somehow seems larger than life.
Actually, I do think it is as easy as reading a manual. If the parent has the care to read it, and not understand it, then they will seek out help to understand it. I have heard the “there should be a manual to raising kids”. Do you really think, that if people won’t read their child restraint manual, that they will read a child rearing manual?
There was a video played on one of the stations in our hospital. I was not very impressed. Only focussed on minimums. And only showed latch installs. Yet, they were going to force me to watch the shaken baby video.
I have a feeling that this particular congressman most likely had a family member lost due to improper use because the parent just didn’t know. I do believe education is key, but don’t think it should be mandatory.
I still don’t understand why we’re not holding vehicle manufacturers responsible for the safety of ALL their passengers. We have laws forcing them to make their products safer for adults, but very few requiring them to do the same for children – and the ones we do have are clearly grossly inadequate.
I’d much rather see mandatory training for all car salespeople, mandatory retrofitting of locking lap/shoulder belts and top tethers, and considerably more cooperation and communication between vehicle and carseat manufacturers. I should be able to walk into the dealership that made my car and say “Okay, my kid’s outgrowing the infant seat that came with my car, what now?” and have them say “These three brands have all been tested and fit perfectly in your vehicle; come over to the shelf and check them out, and and I’ll get the CPST over here to discuss your options.”
With 85% misuse rates being the best we seem to be able to get, why can’t we (as a country) realize that the problem is NOT with the parents?
Kate, mandatory car seat checkpoints (like DUI checkpoints) get a population you wouldn’t otherwise see at either “friendly” checkup events or at education classes. Since they’re being pulled over because they have a car seat in the car–there’s no discrimination since everyone who has a car seat gets pulled over–you have the chance to educate. Even though it starts out hostile, they really do leave grateful. As long as they see the police as the hostile ones, lol, and you as the helpful one, it works.
Our state task force is also working on a short, simple message that will hit the airwaves after we’ve run it past a test group. It’ll have 3 words, that’s it. In print, it will have a descriptive picture to go with each word. Simple is what you want.
Shauna, I agree. The “bad” techs giving out bad information scares me. I think all of the techs in my area are decent techs, but I know a few of them are giving outdated advice. We try to give CEU classes and current information on our web page, but if they won’t attend, what else can we do? If they won’t attend checkup events so we can observe their skills on a regular basis, what else can we do? It’s frustrating. We do need to make good information available to everyone, everywhere.
its funny – because I’m feeling a similar pull to educate… but at the same time… HOW DO YOU DO IT??? It just isn’t feasible. I help out at a local center (not in Nevada) and honestly – 100% so far… wrong. From everything to not even buckling the child in to brining in a 2.5 year old in a 22lb snugride (that was probably purchased at a yardsale.
The problem is, the population of folks that I’m dealing with are NOT the type to even go to a check (which occur generally at police/fire stations here). They don’t like authority. And honestly – some of them are probably illegal. So how do we at least ensure their kids are safe? I wish there was a way to get to them while they are in the hospital… like on the channel in the hospital that just replayed the info over and over again… seriously. Honestly – I’m happy when I see a seat come in with just basic issues like “not tight” or “straps to low/high” – but we see MUCH bigger problems here (like baby coming in on mom’s lap… yep… seen it)
Anyhow – I love the idea – and I would love more suggestions on HOW to effectively educate the mass population… but it’s just not there yet. We almost need a Public Service Announcement running on PBS or something…
Oops, I re-read my comment and it sounds like I live where this is being discussed. I live in Ohio, not Nevada.
I don’t think something like this could pass. Sometimes I hear people say that you should have to have a license to have kids when they see someone do something stupid. But the reality is, we DON’T pass classes to become parents. And we shouldn’t have to. I would worry something like this would set a precedent for other classes. Ones that may be beneficial but infringing on our rights. Where would it end? How to feed your baby? How to diaper them? Preventing SIDS and sleep-training?
I do think we need better education for car seat safety, but mandatory classes? No thanks. I hear horror stories about bad techs teaching things that are in no way ok. What if some of these mandatory classes got a bad tech or 2? Yikes! And how in the world would they even make it mandatory? Refuse to let you leave the hospital? Force new, nursing moms to sit through a class? What about people who have their babies at home?
I think we need to do what we do now, but better. WIC, pedis, health departments, shot clinics, ect all need to be handing out info about car seat safety and direct us to cr seat classes and checks. Which we need to have more of. We need a stricter certification process to weed out the bad techs. We need to make car seat education available to all parents.
I signed up for a car seat class before my 2nd child was born. I never got in. They weren’t holding enough classes to meet the needs of the community. So I became a tech myself. I told them I’d like to help out. They haven’t returned my calls. We have about 2 checks a YEAR in this area. This is not ok. If the system was run better, we wouldn’t have people considering mandatory classes!!!