Author Archive

The Train Ride Home


As I wrote in a previous entry, we opted to take the Amtrak California Zephyr home, rather than fly.  Our youngest loves trains and we thought it would be a fun thing to do.  As a bonus, airports are always a bit stressful with 3 kids so the train had to be better, right?

Random Thoughts at KIM


Today started with the child restraint manufacturers session.   Mostly, we heard about revisions to existing products and manuals.  There really wasn’t much for new products.   At least one of these new products was just announced in a press release, so hopefully I can say more about it in this space very soon! I suspect the new products I hoped to discuss will be on display at the ABC Kids Expo in September.   Heather and I will be there as media attendees, so hopefully we will have much more interesting news and photos to share then!

In the mean time, I’ll discuss what the representative from Chicco USA had to say about some of the most common issues they hear about on the customer service line.

The new Britax Boulevard CS


It didn’t make it to the Kidz In Motion Conference, but it’s now in production!  I evaluated a pre-production model of the Britax Boulevard CS recently and found it to be a very clever feature addition.  Basically, the mechanism senses when the tension you put on the harness adjustment strap is meeting resistance from the child.  As you give a solid pull, it gives a distinct tactile and audible [double] click when the harness is adjusted to an acceptable point.  It’s really that simple.

I am going to wait to make a final opinion until I have a production model, hopefully by the end of the month, but my overall impression was positive.  I will say that it is not foolproof.  For example, it can be fooled by thick winter coats, just as a parent can be fooled.  The manual clearly mentions thick clothing is a concern, as it is in every child restraint.  It’s also possible to have the harness tight enough, even though you haven’t yet heard the click (or maybe you released your pull just a bit too soon).  Parents, advocates and technicians who are familiar with adjusting a 5-point harness correctly may find this to be mostly a gimmick, though still a pretty cool one.   On the other hand, for many parents and caregivers who often leave the harness too loose, I found it to be a very quick and simple way to get a good adjustment of the harness the vast majority of the time.  If you pass your seat to a relative, babysitter or daycare, it’s also a simple way to make sure they get it right when you aren’t there!

Need a Tether for Your Toyota?


GM, Ford, and Chrysler have had programs to reimburse dealers to provide a free top tether anchor retrofit in many vehices made in the 1980s and 1990s, until top tethers became standard. While some dealers didn’t know about these programs (or even tried to get the customer to pay anyway), it was still a great program and well-known to many child passenger safety technicians. In turn, we would give the information to parents who could use these retrofit kits in their vehicles.

Unfortunately, such free retrofits are not available on many other makes. While the parts exist, the kits can often cost $10 online or even more at a local dealer. Adding to that, many dealers will charge you a minimum half hour of labor and the total can be $40 or $50 or higher:-(

Enter SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. In a partnership with Toyota, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. can provide a certificate for a parts kit and installation at a local Toyota or Lexus dealership!