Monthly Archive:: May 2010

Infant Seat Handle Positions


A common question parents often have when using infant seats is “where should the handle go—up or down?”  It’s not that simple anymore, actually.  On some seats, the handle must be up.  On some, the handle must be down.  On one, the handle is recommended to be placed all the way forward, toward the baby’s feet!  And I guarantee you that in every vehicle but one I’ve seen with an Evenflo infant seat, the handle has been in the incorrect up position.  So, instead of playing “Guess the Handle Position” with your infant seat handles, let’s get some help.

We’re big supporters of SafetyBeltSafe USA here at the blog.  They work tirelessly in pursuit of child passenger safety and have for years, trying to push legislation and forward thinking.  SBS USA is the nonprofit organization that produces the manufacturers’ instructions CD that every technician should have and the color pictorial that helps us identify those pesky CL carseats that leave us scratching our heads.  SBS USA has gone and done it again: they’ve created a document listing all infant seats and their handle positions.  After you’ve checked out the handle positions document, take a look at all the other documents they have for free on their website: .  And I know that this blog post didn’t start out this way, but if you have a couple bucks left over in your PayPal account, you might want to thank SBS USA for their generous help and dedication to all of us.

A Few Updates: Carseats We Like


Our list of Recommended Carseats (technically Heather’s list with a little input from Kecia and me) was getting a bit obsolete.  So were our Amazon lists that appear on the right hand column that show some of my favorite child safety seats and also Kecia’s list of models that offer extended harnessing.  We are in the process of updating these lists to remove models that are no longer available or are just not as competitive since our last update.

We talked about why we recommend products in a previous blog.  To summarize, it used to be that agencies and technicians were supposed to be impartial, even though we all knew that some models were clearly easier to use or install in a wider variety of situations.  Even the NHTSA got in the game a few years back by publishing their own ratings system.  So, we asked, why couldn’t we?  And we did.  Keep in mind that these are purely subjective opinions, though they are based on our experiences as technicians and instructors.   We try not to be biased for or against specific brands.  While we do tend to prefer premium models with additional safety and ease-of-use features, we also include a few more basic, budget choices.  As such, our preferences may not be the same as yours.  We can’t list every seat, so there are some very good models we don’t mention, some of which are probably your favorites (sorry!).  Only you know what you will find easy to use and what will fit your child and vehicle well, so only you can determine if one of our suggestions is a good fit for you!  When in doubt, always get a good return policy (Amazon now offers free returns on some models!) and please visit a child passenger safety technician if you have any problems!

Finally, please keep in mind that there is no way to compare the crash safety of child restraints in North America.  There simply is not a rating system that allows you to compare the safety of carseats and correlates that to a risk of injury, such as the system we have from the NHTSA and IIHS to compare the crashworthiness of vehicles.   You may find test results from the NHTSA or Transport Canada that are those used to determine if particular models pass or fail the required standards.  Other tests are strictly for research and were not designed in a scientific manner that allows any kind of comparisons to be made.  This lack of comparative information is a major shortcoming.  Not only would a comprehensive crash testing system allow parents to determine if one model is safer than another, but it would also encourage manufacturers to improve their child seats as the vehicle manufacturers have done over the last decade or two.  Until we have such a system, we basically have to trust the government and manufacturers that the current standards are enough. 

In the mean time, you can always check out our recommendations!

Poetic Justice for Impatient Drivers


We had been searching for a handy parking spot for nearly 10 minutes.  It’s a very busy downtown area and the parking garages are inconvenient for a quick trip.  Plus, we’d just left the lot on this side of the downtown area without finding a spot.  So, my wife finally decided that she’d pull into the lot next to the store, run in to get the item she wanted to buy for a gift, then I’d take over driving the car and wait for her to come back.

Sounded like a plan.  As she exited, I hopped into the driver’s seat, backed out of the loading area and started turning down the exit lane of the parking lot.  I could not proceed because an elderly woman with a walker was crossing the lane very slowly.  While I’m not the most patient driver, I was waiting for my wife anyway.  It’s not like I had anywhere to go, so I was happy to hold up traffic on her behalf.   The driver behind me was not so patient.  A couple times he moved left, presumably thinking he would pass me to find a spot in the last lane once she was done blocking my path.  Finally, just as the woman was about to clear the driving lane in front of me, he revved it and zipped past me on the left.  It was a manly accomplishment, to be sure.  I’m certain the elderly woman was impressed with the prowess of his generic midsize sedan.

A few moments later, as he stopped at the end of the lane at the street, I had to chuckle when a car right behind him backed out of a parking space.  I  happily took the spot and watched sporto drive into the garage directly across from the parking lot exit.  The same garage we’d left a little while earlier.  Maybe he’d have better luck.  Or not!

It’s not the first time I’d seen poetic justice served.  I hope it’s not the last, because those are quality driving moments.

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 1st Look Review: One Word, Wow!


I bought my first child safety seat made by Dorel back around 1999, before I became involved in child passenger safety.  It was the original Cosco High Back combo booster.  Consumer Reports had given it a top rating.  Who was I to disagree?  While it was a good value, it was difficult to use, from the tricky installation to the harness straps that quickly twisted into ropes to the obnoxious tether adjustment.  Well, something good did come of that.  Between that seat and the Century Smartmove, my frustration with child seats became great enough that I began to have an interest in carseat safety advocacy.

Flash forward over a decade.  Earlier this year, Dorel released the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air.  We originally saw it at the ABC Kids Expo last fall and it’s been on the market for a couple months now.  Dorel has come a long way.  In my opinion, the onBoard 35 Air is the nicest child safety seat made by Dorel to date and also ranks among my favorite few infant seats made by any manufacturer.