Today the brilliant and dedicated team from the Center for Injury Prevention and Research at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) released a new CPS Issue Report “Optimizing the Rear Seat for Children – April 2013” which highlights some of the various ways that vehicle rear seats could be optimized to protect kids too big for “add-on” child restraints. Unfortunately, tweens and young teens (who typically are out of boosters and using just the adult seatbelt) have much higher injury rates than the younger kids who can and do benefit from using a carseat or booster. I’d like to think we’ve made some good progress getting the message out about kids in the 4-8 age group needing an “add-on” CR but clearly something needs to be done to make the occupant restraint systems in the back seat more suitable for tweens and teens. Ideally, all kids should use a booster until they can pass the 5 Step Test but that means keeping most 9, 10 and some 11 year olds in boosters. Sure, my almost 9 year still uses a booster and he will continue to do so until he passes the 5 Step Test in our vehicles but the reality is that almost none of his 3 grade classmates are still using a booster. I’m not sure why we’re failing so miserably at keeping kids in boosters until they are actually large enough to fit well in the adult seatbelt but all it takes is one quick look around your local elementary school parking lot to come to the conclusion that we are failing. Parents either aren’t getting the message or they are getting the message but ignoring it.
Anyhow, the injury rates according to 2007 data from the Partners for Child Passenger Safety study paint a very clear picture – injuries to kids in motor vehicle crashes increase with age:
4.5 injuries per 1,000 children for 0 to 3 years
7.0 for 4 to 8 years
15.5 for 9 to 12 years
20.6 for 13 to 15 years
“This is due in part to the different ways they are restrained at each age, where they sit and other crash characteristics. In addition, as children age, the vehicle’s rear seat and associated safety features may not be able to offer the optimal protection that younger occupants are provided by add-on restraints.”
I encourage everyone to actually download and read the entire report because there is a wealth of information in there on the subject that goes way beyond a simple blog or a comment shared on facebook. Back seat occupant protection seems to be the final frontier of vehicle safety and let’s be honest – there is a lot of room for improvement there!
What was called Chicago’s “flood of the century” back in 1996 essentially just repeated itself last week, only 17 years later. Roads were closed, homes were partially under water and my downtown area was sandbagged to help protect buildings that hadn’t already been flooded. The morning after the major overnight torrent of rain storms, our school district informed us that school was in session. I managed to get my two oldest kids, normally walkers, to the school through back roads that had up to 4″ of standing water in spots. The main route was closed. My wife and I then drove our youngest, who normally walks to a bus stop, over a block farther away. His regular stop was under over 5 inches of water and quickly getting deeper as a nearby retention pond was overflowing.
On the way back, we took the other route around the deepest flooded section of our street near his bus stop. We stopped for a few minutes, as someone in our sub-division was attempting to clean one of the street drains that was under about 6 inches of standing water, as evidenced by the level on his boots. He finished the task, stood up and started to chat with another neighbor across the street. At that point, I very slowly proceeded down the street toward our house, so as not to splash or create significant waves. I didn’t know this man, so I started to roll down my window to say hello and thank him for clearing the drain.
At that moment, he broke off his conversation and erupted into a completely unprovoked outrage at me, before I even had a chance to speak. He was suddenly yelling at me in disbelief that I had to drive on this street (the same one the bus had just passed a few minutes earlier). I didn’t really know how to react, as the rest of our community is normally very friendly and neighborly. I managed a half-hearted apology before I rolled the window up and drove away. I avoided escalating the situation, not knowing if he was going to suddenly emo-rage and come after us with the garden implement he had used to clean the drain.
We dismissed it as someone who perhaps had to deal with a flooded basement or worse. Completely understandable. Still, what it is about being in or around a car that makes people behave completely differently than they might otherwise? Had we been walking home from the bus stop, I imagine the events would have been much different. I sure hope so, or I might have had a garden hoe lodged in my skull!
Cars sometimes seem to provide a type of security that allows a different, more aggressive person to emerge. It’s not unlike how some people act much differently in online communities than they do in person. Perhaps it’s just easiest to outlet rage at some stranger driving a car, whether you are a pedestrian or another driver. Anyone have a good road rage story to share?
The Graco TurboBooster has long been a favorite of parents and car seat experts. It’s relatively inexpensive and tends to provide a great fit for a wide range of children and vehicles. Over the past couple years, though, more and more caregivers have sought out booster seats with LATCH connectors to keep the seat secure when it’s not in use, a feature the TurboBooster lacks.
Enter the Graco Affix Booster with LATCH. Think of it as a TurboBooster Supreme, if you will: All the features you know and love about the Turbo, plus a couple added goodies, including LATCH!
First, the nitty-gritty. As best I can tell, the Affix has almost exactly the same dimensions as the TurboBooster, so if one works for you, the other should, too. I only had the backless Turbo to compare with, but my measurements of the Affix (with and without back) are essentially the same as the measurements in car-seat.org’s Car Seat Data Measurements for the TurboBooster. A few measurements of the Affix are slightly different than some of the Turbo’s in the database, but I think that’s due to the difficulty of getting exact measurements rather than actual differences in the seat.
Graco Affix Specs
Highback: At least 3 years old, 38-57″, 30-100 lbs
Backless: At least 4 years old, 40-57″, 40-100 lbs