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Bumper Bullies

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People have been doing it since automobiles first appeared on roads.  We’ve all probably been guilty of tailgating the car in front of us from time to time.  I’ve certainly followed slow drivers too closely, though never unsafely close like many drivers I’ve seen (my wife may disagree…)  On at least one road near my house, it seems far more than isolated cases of being very late to an appointment.  It’s more like an epidemic of road-ragers and just plain inconsiderate and unsafe drivers.

The main route through our subdivision is a 4-lane city road.  Our stretch of this road is at least a few miles long of only residential areas, and so no large trucks are allowed.  The speed limit is 35 mph for miles in either direction and signs are posted frequently.  The problem is that this road goes from one end of town to the other, from the interstate highway to all the residences in the south end of town.  That apparently is the only excuse needed for drivers to be in a big hurry, all day, every day.

Where my street ends at this road is our school district’s new pre-K school that also serves children with disabilities.  That serves as no deterrent to speeders, lane weavers and bumper bullies.  I drive this road frequently, and if it is anywhere close to rush hour, there is someone so close to my rear bumper that I can’t see their headlights in my mirrors.   And it doesn’t seem to matter how fast I’m driving, someone is always on my bumper trying to bully me to drive faster.

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My response is to then drive EXACTLY 35 mph until my turn, but the bullies never take a hint about their unsafe driving.  For most, they simply look for an opportunity to be even less safe.  They swerve into the other lane to cut off another car, then speed past me until they get on the bumper of yet another vehicle and have to slow down again a few seconds later.  Or, they have to jam on the brakes at the next traffic signal behind another group of cars they will unsafely tailgate to repeat the cycle.

From expressway until the road ends, it’s about 7 miles long.  Considering all the stoplights and traffic, it’s unlikely the bullies can average 10 miles per hour faster than safe drivers, even if they do manage to go 50mph or faster for short stretches.  A savings of perhaps a few minutes in a best case scenario, but realistically only a minute or two.  Is it really worth it?  Not only being an idiot and contributing to their own stress and blood pressure levels, but endangering other drivers, their own passengers and pedestrians, too?

 

Kiddy World Plus Recall

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Kiddy World Plus Recall

This recall of the Kiddy World Plus is for a compliance failure issue such that, “A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.”  As there is currently no remedy or official company website notice, CarseatBlog advises parents to immediately discontinue using their Kiddy World Plus with the protection shield for children above 1 year old and between 22-40 lbs.  This applies ONLY to model 51 100 WP manufactured between July 2, 2012 and October 5, 2013.  Stop using the carseat as a toddler seat with protection shield and contact Kiddy USA at 1-855-92KIDDY for further instructions regarding acceptable methods of installation and use.

For children between 40-110 pounds, and 40 to 57 in. tall,  the World Plus may continue to be safely used as a high back booster car seat per the instruction manual.  CarseatBlog further recommends that children be restrained in a carseat with a 5-point harness until they are 4 years old AND above 40 pounds.

Over 1,429 Kiddy World Plus carseats are affected.

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From the NHTSA:

SUMMARY:

Kiddy USA (Kiddy) is recalling certain World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured from July 2, 2012, through October 5, 2013. The buckle/tongue on the affected booster seats may only partially engage. As a result, the consumer may have a false impression that the buckle is fully latched when it is not. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

REMEDY:

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Kiddy customer service at 1-855-92KIDDY (1-855-925-4339).

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Graco TurboBooster Owner’s Manual Recall

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turboGraco is recalling over 20,000 TurboBooster seats due to the printed instuctions missing information required by federal standards.  This is NOT a safety defect and according to Graco, “does not affect the overall dynamic performance of the TurboBooster car seat.”  Parents should continue to use an affected TurboBooster as they normally would until Graco sends them the additional instructions.  The concern is that an unoccupied and unsecured booster could be a flying hazard in a crash and strike another occupant.  Simply buckle the booster with the seatbelt when it is not in use to resolve this concern.

 

According to Graco, models affected were manufactured between December 22, 2015 and April 5, 2016 with the following Model Numbers:

TurboBooster Model Numbers Date of Manufacture Range
1963973 3/8/2016 to 4/2/2016
1963974 12/22/2015 to 3/30/2016
1963975 12/22/2015 to 3/17/2016
1963976 2/17/2016 to 3/24/2016
1967886 1/13/2016 to 4/5/2016
1975173 3/29/2016

Where is the model number?  Look at the bottom of the car seat and locate the white label and note the MODEL NUMBER and DATE OF MANUFACTURE.

From the NHTSA:

Graco Children’s Products Inc. (Graco) is recalling certain Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactured between December 22, 2015, and April 5, 2016. The instructions for the booster seats are missing the information that the seats should be securely belted to the vehicle at all times, even if the seat is unoccupied. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

In the event of a vehicle crash, an unoccupied and unsecured child restraint may strike other occupants and cause injury.

REMEDY:

Graco will notify registered owners and provide the missing printed instructions, free of charge. Non-registered owners can obtain the missing printed instructions by contacting Graco customer service at 1-800-345-4109. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, June 10, 2016.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Are CPSTs Car Seat Experts?

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In the world of Child Passenger Safety, certain safety topics are a routine course of discussion: Is it better to use a booster or a harnessed seat with no tether? When is it okay for children to sit in the front seat? What do you do if a child needs to use a seating position with no headrest?

ExpertEvery once in a while, though, there are questions that center around the practice of being a Child Passenger Safety Technician and what that means. One question I’ve seen come up from time to time is: Do you consider/refer to yourself as a “car seat expert”?

The answer, almost unanimously, is no. As one of the few dissenters, I’m baffled by that.

People’s reasoning varies. Some say that they don’t know everything and therefore can’t be considered an expert. Some say there are other people who know more than they do. Some say that it sounds egotistical. Some say that they still need to refer to manuals for information.

I say that none of that excludes someone from being an expert. I also contend that claiming we’re not experts actually hurts our reputation.

First, let’s look at it from a practical standpoint. When I tell people I’m a “Child Passenger Safety Technician,” they usually get a confused look on their face. What the heck does that even mean? It sounds like a piece of bureaucratic corporatese. It sounds like someone who engineers or assembles…children? I always need to follow it up with something like, “I help parents choose and install car seats,” or “I help keep children safe in cars,” but that’s all very clunky. It’s so much easier and clearer to say, “I’m a car seat expert.” That tells them everything they need to know.

Next, and more importantly, let’s take a look at the definition of “expert”: a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

Okay, so what does “comprehensive” mean? Including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something. I don’t think anyone involved in Child Passenger Safety would claim to know everything, but I don’t think anyone in any field would claim absolute knowledge. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t know everything about the cosmos, but he’s certainly seen as an expert. Are CPSTs not experts just because they haven’t memorized the LATCH manual or installed a foonf?

Let’s look at “authoritative.” Able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable. Online and in-person, CPSTs use their credentials to explain why people should listen to them. Our training makes us better advocates than the friend who just loves her particular (misused) car seat, or the pediatrician who tells parents to turn their babies forward-facing because their legs touch the seat back. If we’re not trusted, accurate, and true, why are we giving advice, and why should anyone listen?

As a consumer, I’d be turned off if the guy who came to give us an estimate on a new fence today said, “Oh, I do this to help people but I’m not really an expert on fences…” Or if my optometrist said, “Nah, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on eyes. There are ophthalmologists who know more than I do.” Or if my mechanic said, “I have to look up the part number for this. Clearly I’m no expert on fixing cars!”

I go to the fence guy, the eye doctor, the mechanic not because they know everything or are the absolute best in the world, but because they have the skills and training to do what I can’t.

Being a car seat expert doesn’t mean knowing everything. It doesn’t mean that we never have to look things up (in fact, our training specifically tells us that we should look things up). It doesn’t mean we can solve every problem. It doesn’t mean we’ll never run into a situation we haven’t encountered before. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other people in the car seat universe who know more or have more experience than we do.

Being an expert does mean that we know more than the average bear, at least in terms of child passenger safety. It means we’re a reliable source of information that we can use to help make kids safer.

To claim we’re not experts on car seats undermines what we do. Why would a parent trust someone who says, “I’m no expert, but your kid shouldn’t be in a booster seat”? It is our expertise that leads people to seek our advice and to trust what we say. If we claim we’re not experts, where is our credibility?