Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I do what I do

Most of you know I'm carseat crazy. You may even think I'm bordering (or even crossed the border) on carseat insane. But do you know why I do what I do? Because it saves lives. How many times do we see on the news that children, parents, families died in a horrible car crash. My job is to try and prevent those stories. I have a friend, named Anne. Anne is just as carseat crazy as I am. What I am posting below, is her story. She and her family were in a crash a few days ago. They could have easily been one of those stories on the news. But they weren't, because Anne is carseat crazy. Make sure you read the entire thing. Read how many times they crashed and rolled. And read what the (very few) injuries were. Then look at the pictures.

On our way to Phoenix, just a few miles away, my husband (driving our 2002 Odyssey) hit an obstacle in the road. We don't know what it is, but we all felt the bump, then were airborne, and onto a gravel shoulder. We skidded on the gravel. The van hit a barrier (right at the rear driver's side, where my 4 year old daughter was seated.) It then flipped across the highway. My husband was braking the whole way. (He had just had the tires rotated and pressure checked, and the brakes replaced.) It slowed us considerably. We went into a ditch at an angle and became airborne. We went down on the passenger side of the vehicle, nose first, and then flipped over upside down.

My daughters (the 4 year old, almost 5, and her 2 sisters, 6 almost 7 and 2 almost 3) were screaming. This meant they were alive and I was glad. My husband and I were suspended by our (properly worn) seatbelts. I had significant neck pain. My husband was able to exit the vehicle fairly easily, but I was trapped; I had to be extracted with the Jaws of Life (after fending off a bystander who wanted to cut my belt with a pen knife and pull me out, yelling at him, "Do not cut my seatbelt! Wait until the EMTs arrive to hold c-spine! If you want to do something, get me a jacket and treat me for shock!")

My 4 and 6 year olds were harnessed properly in properly installed and used, tethered seats. (The 6 year old is usually boostered, but because it was a late night trip I didn't want to risk her falling asleep and falling out of position.) My 2 year old was rear-facing. The heavy cargo in the van was all packed tightly down in the bottom of the trunk, compartmentalized behind and under the seat as much as possible before we left. My husband and I had our seatbelts and headrests properly fastened and adjusted and were seated in proper position.
My husband has a mild lung contusion and abrasions from his seatbelt and "road burn." I have a lot of stitches in my arm (which dragged along the ground outside the car-- the trauma surgeon says that the braking slowed us enough to save me from having it ripped off) and on my face and bruising all over. My 6 year old has minor abrasions (more road burn) and bruises. My 4 year old, with the most severe injuries, suffered a severe cut to her foot (aptly and completely repaired by great surgeons) and a broken leg (remember, she was AT the first point of impact, a side impact.) My 2 year old, who was in the rear-facing seat, was completely unharmed. Not a mark on her. Nothing. Despite the fact that we landed on the side of the car she was on (she was behind me, I was in the second row passenger seat, and the forward-facers were second and third row driver's side.)
 photo AnneVan3.jpg

 photo AnneVan2.jpg

 photo AnneVan1.jpg

 photo AnneVan4.jpg

Anne said aside from the dirt, the carseats looked perfectly fine. THIS is why you can't buy used carseats, you won't know if it's been in a crash. Even though they look fine, they have done their job and must be replaced.


I was asked to add to this blog post. It is doing it's job and spreading information. However, some people are turning it into an "anti-booster" message. Anne's 6 year old is usually in a booster, except on a trip where she might fall asleep (and lean out of position). Anne was asked if she would reconsider the booster, and put her daughter into a 5 point harness for all car rides. This is her response:
My view on boosters has not changed. The reason that she was in a harness, was that she was likely to fall asleep, and she sometimes slumps when she does. She will still be boostered for normal use.
My view has always been that boosters are safe for a child who can stay seated properly 100% of the time, and that was not E (6, almost 7) on a long trip, and B (4, almost 5) is no where near it. So they were harnessed. If this same crash had happened and E was in a booster but asleep and slumped, she'd have been more hurt.

I think by 6 most but not all kids are booster ready for most trips, but most are NOT before 5. I think moving from harness to booster is ideally a process where you use the harness less and booster more as the kid gets more ready, until they're ready 100% of the time (even when asleep.)

Here is a link to a photobucket account that has more pictures of the van and carseats.

One more addition to this post. Anne wants everyone to know that proper seatbelt fit matters. With her help, I have posted information on seabelt fit here.

62 comments:

Miss-buggy said...

glad you had what she wrote in there. What a miracle they are all ok. Can I share this on FB? (misty-bug)

CarseatNanny said...

Yes, please feel free to share this blog anywhere. Anne has given permission for it to be spread, and I want it spread as well.

~Beth D. said...

wow! thank you for sharing. I am a seat belt fanatic also. I don't even want to put my 5 year old in a booster.

Maggie said...

I posted on my Facebook and another board I belong to!

I also went our and checked our seats....I'll be making an appointment soon to double check they are right!

Anonymous said...

Awesome story, but that is not a car that has had the jaws of life used on the passenger side door, or any door.

Monique.N said...

Wow, what a vivid story! If that doesn't convince you to ALWAYS use restraints, ALWAYS according to their proper guidelines, I don't know what would.

I raised my babies in the 80's, faithfully using car seats. A friend put the "fear of God" in us way back when, when she told me about one time when her daughter (a few months older than my firstborn) was fussy in the car and she opted to hold her while her husband was driving...during that ride, they had a minor accident. I think they smacked the dashboard but had no serious injuries. But it was enough to make us realize there was NEVER EVER any safe time to hold our kids in a moving car or let them ride without proper restraints. Anne's story REALLY drives that lesson home!! Literally!

Maggie said...

Anon How can you tell?

Now I'm no expert BUT I can tell you which side of a car is what.

From what I can see these pictures are only showing the Driver side/ Front of the van.

The PASSENGER had to be taken out with the jaws of life according to the story. Her side of the car isn't shown if you look closely.

Maggie said...

^Never mind I see the first picture now.

But seriously how can you tell? The back slider of the van is just hanging there....again no expert but it looks like it was cut to me.

Holly E. said...

Anonymous, Anne was not in the front seat, no one was in the front passenger seat. Anne was in the 2nd row passenger side. You can see that the door is barely hanging there now.

Robyn said...

She is very lucky she was not in the front seat, from the look of the roof she would probably have sustained serious if not fatal injuries.

BTW, does is really matter the point is: if they had not all been correctly restrained someone if not all would be dead.

Rebekah Hamon said...

What brand of carseat are the larger two?

Stephie C said...

amazing love this story and so happy it has a happy ending! Hooray for being carseat crazy!

howard99 said...

@ Rebekah Hamon. The 2 larger car seats are SafeGuard Child Seats. They are no longer made, but were not expired.

This story is why CPST's do what we do to try to keep children safe.

Twocuphabit said...

I was in a head-on collision last June. My two daughters and I were correctly restrained. My leg was broken, but not badly. My older (6 at the time) daughter had a bump on the back of her head, my younger daughter (4 at the time) had no injuries. If they had not been properly restrained, the could have been dead or severely injured. I am now, and have always been, proud to be a seatbelt "nazi".

Judi L. said...

Usually when you see a door not conected to the car, like the passenger side slider it these picutes, that means we took it off. It may have been opened enough where there firefighters could get to the sliders and cut. Also "the jaws of life" it a term a lot of of people use for spreaders and cutter both.

Vicki said...

Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find accurate information about how to properly restrain large items in the car? We drive around a great deal with these items in the back. Thanks for sharing this story.

LaVonne said...

Thank you for sharing this blog! I too am going to post on a blog and on our site if you don't mind :) Is it possible to receive a photo to upload for printing purposes? lavonneries@hotmail.com

Trooper Tom said...

I appreciate anything that delivers the message of carseat advocacy, but Anne should maybe think about sending her husband through Driver's Ed again. PROPER evasive maneuvers should be taken just as seriously as safety restraints.

This accident seems to have happened because the driver failed to maintain control of the vehicle. I don't know what he claims to have hit, but the hood of that vehicle is virtually unscathed. So what launches a 4,250-pound vehicle "airborne" but doesn't destroy the front of it?

Nothing. It appears the driver simply panic-swerved and put the vehicle onto unstable (and then uneven), terrain.

Anne effectively saved her childrens' lives, but the more important takeaway is that this accident never had to occur in the first place.

People need to learn that the family van does not handle like a Porsche. If we can take our vehicles to a carseat checkpoint every year, surely we can pencil in a Defensive Driving course or two...?

CarseatNanny said...

Lavonne, I will email you a link to the photo bucket account with the pictures, which I'm about to link to here as well. Please feel free to share this with anyone it may help.

Judi L is a fire fighter for those that don't know. I asked her to come here and give her professional response to Annon.'s comment about it doesn't look like the jaws were used.

Here is a comment from another first responder as well:
"Isnt the sliding door by Anne not attached? Just sitting there resting against the car? That would be the door they cut off to get her out. On a normal car door(not sliding) they cut and peel back the door. Im not well versed on sliding doors but I think they cut at each point of attachment and take it off. But its a huge entry way so they dont need tons of room to get her out while c spined. She was in the best spot. In the front with a tiny door and a dash in the way its horrible getting someone cspined out. They had way more room to work back there so they wouldnt need to cut as much. 95% of the time they would cut and peel back the roof to get people out. However, her car was upside down right? Making the whole cutting off the roof thing impossible. LOL. Im in my ipod so I cant post on your blog. Sorry!"

CarseatNanny said...

Trooper Tom: When they were driving home, they saw alot of blown truck tires on the highway. They think maybe that was what they ran over. It would have been hard to see a black tire on the black road at night. But yes, this should be a reminder to us all about careful driving as well.

Barbara P. said...

My kids are now 19 & 22, both college students, but I was extremely car seat crazy when they were little. My husband knew a man who lost his 10 month old boy in a roll over car accident. The baby died because he was taken out of his car seat when he was fussing. The family was returning from a trip to Las Vegas when the accident occured. They were told that had the baby been in his car seat he would have survived the crash! When my son was about a month old, we watched as a minivan was cut off near State Line NV and proceeded to barrel roll about 8 times. We rendered aid until EMS arrived. My son cried for 4 hours straight as we drove home that day. We stopped at the way sides with him several times, but I never took him out of his seat to hold him while the vehicle was in motion. Nineteen years later he is still here to thank me for my vigilance! I will pass this on. Many of my former GS's are now young mothers.

Anne said...

Trooper Tom

Jeff is an extremely cautious and well-trained driver. We were going the speed limit, 70, slower or the same as the rest of the flow of traffic. We happened to be going around a very slight curve. On this particular stretch of road, there is a ditch either side (before the barrier, in the case of the divider.) It was filled with gravel. The curve meant the wheels were already turned. When we hit whatever the obstacle was (probably a truck tire-- do they EVER clean that stretch of the 10? It looked awful on the way back!) we went straight into the gravel. Jeff braked and attempted to regain control, but there was simply no time to react before the high speed, gravel, ditch, curve combination slammed us into the barrier. I'm sure a police-trained driver may have been able to do it, and I may suggest a special course as Jeff is always willing to learn better driving skills. But he is one of the best drivers I know, and this was simply not preventable under the circumstances, even for a good driver (though as I say, it may have been with more specialized training. He has taken defensive driving classes, but not any of the really high-level ones.)

Maggie said...

Anne I'm glad to hear your family is ok.

I've served in the Army and I've had to take defensive drivng courses. While good to have they are not always foolproof. Sometimes circumstances beyond your control happen and no matter how defensive you are a crash can still happen. I've seen police wreak patrol cars because of road debries and I know they have to take defensive driving classes as well. Bottom line is sometimes poo happens no matter what. Fortuately in this case no one was killed!

Now can we quit playing Monday morning quaterback and just be thankful they are alive?


(Sorry for any spelling or grammer I'm on my phone)

Kate R said...

Even the best drivers in the world have accidents, sometimes they are just unavoidable. I am glad that Anne and her family are ok.

Thank you for sharing her story.

I am also "carseat crazy". I have my 3.5 year old son still rearfacing (in the exact same seat as on the right in your photo). I have to upgrade him to a new seat as I need that one for his little brother.

I had almost let myself be talked into putting the 3.5 year old into a straight booster with adult belt (he is tall and heavy for his age), but this has just strengthened my resolve to keep him harnessed for longer, and although it will mean buying one of the most expensive seats available here, which will be a stretch on our budget, I just need to make sure my kids are the safest they can be while in the car.

Allie said...

Thank you for sharing this story! Did all the windows come off in the accident? Is that how they got road burn, because the windows broke out when the van crashed? Thanks.

Carolina Nightingale said...

Heroic sharing of an important if controversial message (ok, somewaht contro, as people who are stupid think buying used carseats are ok...) And also made my mind up. My five point harness with two year old in it was in a , albiet minor, no airbags deployed accident. Front end collision.

I'm going to replace that thing today. Thank you.

Cox Family Adventure said...

I totally agree. I was a Car seat "nazi" as well and was in a horrid accident last august and my kdis survived. Thakfully I was smart and kept my kids in 5 pt harnesses. At the time my kids were 5 and 3. Here is our story..
http://coxfamilylife.blogspot.com/2010/09/car-accident.html

nateandjenny said...

I was wondering if you could send me an email so I could ask you a few questions about carseats: nateandjenny2930@hotmail.com. Thanks!

mommy-medic said...

You said feel free to share- so I reposted (with credit) over at my blog. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

My son is 10. Less then 6 months ago he was still in a booster 100% of the time. People would say to us "He's 10 why do you make him sit in that?" My answer was always "he is not tall enough for the seatbelt to fit him properly, and unit he is, he will be in a booster. He was also in a harness 100% of the time until he was nearly 5, because of his weight. Off the cuff remarks form other people are worth listening to if it means our kids will be safe.

Anonymous said...

I have a question, in the photobucket link, picture 27 of 43 shows the steering wheel, however there is no airbag deployment.

Was there a malfunction or was it non-existent on this vehicle?

Not a huge detail, just curious.

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to also see if you could maybe suggest some good carseats...i have a 5 year old (almost 6) a 2 year old (almost 3) and am expecting twin boys in august...i have a ford taurus so still working on how im going to fit them all in there as i cannot afford another vehicle at this point...but was wondering if you had any suggestions or any helpful hints :) my email is viking_angel070106@yahoo.com
please and thank you!
amanda

Anonymous said...

Front airbags do not deploy in side or rollover collisions.

A common misconception, but this is intentional - if you are doing cartwheels down the Interstate, you are unlikely to fracture your skull against the steering wheel. You might hit it, but not in an injurious way.

In a case where only light contact can be expected, an exploding air-bomb right in front of your chest could do more harm than good. Hence: they don't deploy. Only frontal or strong downward impacts will pop the front bags.

They can't be non-existant; airbags have been required by federal law in the US since 1999.

Trooper Tom said...

Anne, thank you for your polite response. I hope he'll think about it, but he could accomplish the same by simply slowing down a bit.

This is not Monday-morning quarterbacking. This is learning from an incident, and it horrifies me to see people dismiss a single-vehicle accident as "poo happens."

If a lawnmower falls off a landscaping truck directly in front of you, that's "poo happens." If you have a collision because your speed creates a stopping distance twice as long as your headlights reach, that's driver error.

I'm sure Jeff is a great father and a very safe driver, but if he was driving that van beyond a speed at which he could maneuver around road debris, he was behaving unsafely. And it could have been avoided.

Sure, 70 is the speed limit, but since when do we let the minimum law guidelines determine how we act regarding the safety of our kids? If we did that regarding car seats, we'd have a lot more crippled infants on our hands - everyone reading this knows that. It's *our* responsibility.

Jeff and Anne seem like great, responsible people. They picked a great van and they took utmost care with regard to the safety seats. And if the worst thing you do in your life is trust the government to guess how fast you can safety pilot a car, you're a pretty outstanding human being. But I hope the next time he (and anyone reading this) gets behind the wheel of a car, he gives some real thought to what speed is *really* safe.

Truly, I'm sorry to even bring it up, because I'm sure Jeff has spent every night staring at the ceiling since this happened. I know. But if even one person decides to drive 65 instead of 70 on a gravel-lined, unlit highway, it'll be worth it.

For anyone who DOES want to know more about accident mechanics, I suggest you google the stopping distance for your vehicle, driver reaction times, and what it means to "overdrive your headlights." And for God's sake get your car seats checked out.

I'm sorry if this upset anyone.

Trooper Tom said...

Since this has gone somewhat off track, I do want to say how proud I am of Anne and Jeff for taking a real interest in their kids' safety. The Odyssey is one of the safest vans on the market (though I don't have to tell you that) and held up much better than many other vans (and every SUV I can think of) would have done.

You two are great parents and it shows in your behavior. God bless you and keep doing what you're doing. I wish every parent cared as much...

car seat freak sweden said...

What a story! Can I ask you, did you buy your Brio Zento in the US? Can you buy it there? So glad to hear that your 3 year old was rear facing! Most children can be rear facing for a long time, with the right car seat. My 6 year old is rear facing in a Britax Two Way and not to big for it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but how do you rear-face a 2 year old? Wouldn't their legs hit the back of the seat and their knees be hitting their chin? I don't get it. The way I picture it, it seems more dangerous than front-facing.

MacBump said...

My 2 older daughters (10.5 and 7.5) travelled from Vancouver BC to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, by car, with their father last summer. The 10.5yo has been out of a booster in our van for the most part since she was 8 (she passed the 5-step test). The 7.5 was still mostly in a harnessed seat (Britax Husky) due to immaturity. For this trip, I knew they would sleep, slouch over etc. and I wanted them safe. I sent the 10.5yo in the Husky and the 7.5yo in the baby's Sunshine kids Radian, FF. Luckily they both fit those seats *barely*. Luckily, too, they did NOT have a crash but your story just re-inforced that I did the right thing. :-) I have photos of them sleeping soundly, slouched over as far as the harness let them (ie their heads lolling). When they got home, however, the 7.5yo went into a Recaro Start and is doing well in it. 10.5yo is now 11 and went back to nothing in most cars. :-) And I now have the NEW model of Radian to keep the baby RF since his old one was the 30# model and he was at that limit pretty much (he is 2.5 and 30#). :-)

Monica said...

@ anon - It is quite easy to rear face a 2 year old in the convertible seats available on the market in the US. Most will rear face to 35 or 40 lbs. Some have more leg room than others with Britax and Recaro being some with the least amount of leg room. Anne's taller than average almost 3 year old was rear facing in a Swedish seat. In Sweden it is commonplace to rear face children to age 4 and beyond and they have seats to accommodate larger children.

Gina said...

ummm....wow. okay. I don't think they posted this on a blog so someone could tell them that it was their "fault" that it happened. and what other precautions they should have taken. bad accidents can still happen at 55 mph on a 70 speed limit highway!! What I would like to know is what makes you an "expert" to call them out over their blog post on an accident? even if he were going 10 mph slower than what was posted...are you saying that it could have been prevented? no one will ever know for sure. the point here is that they are safe and that the properly installed carseats saved their children's lives, this is not the time to point fingers and lay blame! it's a blog for heaven's sake..

CarseatNanny said...

Carseat Freak Sweden: Some choose to import Swedish seats in the US. Anne's 2 year old had out grown rear facing in all the US seats, and she chose to continue to keep her daughter safe by importing a Swedish seat. For those that don't know, Swedish seats are designed to hold bigger children, they typically rear face until 4-6 years old. US seats are just starting to catch up.

Anonymous: Children are more flexible than we are. They will sit with their legs "criss cross applesauce" and not have a problem. My daughter rear faced in American seats until she turned 4. You can see her in other posts on my blog. There are actually more broken legs from forward facing because the legs are free to fly around the vehicle more. Whereas rear facing they are more contained. Did you notice how The rear facing child had NO injuries? And one of the forward facing children had a broken leg? :-)

Gina: I appreciate you standing up for Anne and for the blog. And while this is "just a blog" this post has been viewed over 15,000 times in 10 different countries, in 48 hours. Trooper Tom did have a point about careful driving, it's a good reminder to us all. This blog is about protecting our children in vehicles, and safe driving is one way to do that.

Everyone: Please no attacks on each other here. If the "OMG, don't attack the family!" continues, the posts will be deleted. I admit, I did react the same way when it was first posted, but he did have valid points.

Trooper Tom: Please don't feel the need to defend yourself here, because I just did.

Anne said...

I want to thank Trooper Tom for his valid point. While Jeff is usually "overly" cautious compared to most CA and AZ drivers, going the speed limit on a road with unknown conditions is something he and I have never considered. I'll be (gently) discussing it with him (not as something that could have prevented this, but as a way to be EVEN MORE safe in the future.) I really appreciate that Trooper Tom is not afraid to gently point out the one thing we could have done better, while acknowledging that we did the best we could.

We all make the best decisions that we can with the information we have. We can't change the past, we can only choose to learn from it to do even better in the future, with more knowledge. Kudos Tom, for helping us gain that knowledge so we can do even BETTER in the future! I really appreciate it, because my goal is to make sure that people learn from my experience-- including me and my family!

MacBump said...

Kudos to YOU Anne, for not getting all defensive in attitude faced with being told all this. Tom IS being polite but it is the rare person who can take it in stride and accept it for the helpful knowledge he intends it to be rather than get all uppity. :-) I am SO glad you all made it out alive, with "relatively minor" issues and again, for the confirmation that I did the right thing last summer on my own daughters' road trip! :-)

Chelsea said...

Let me say that while I was reading this blog, I got goosebumps. This accident is similar to one that I was in while haling my 6 month old son home from a family reunion. My sister had just gotten her permit and was driving us home (Her driving, my boyfriend in the front seat and me and my son in the back seat). She then started going off the road and over corrected herself causing her to loss control, t-bone another truck, and then became air born, flipping three times and finally coming to rest on the driver's side after skidding about 100 feet. Thank god for the car seat that was given to me by my co-workers (a Baby Trend seat) that kept my son from getting any try of injuries. You can not bet that I do lots of research before purchasing seats for my son.

Crissi said...

I am curious about the side airbags. I see that your van was equipped with them (as is my Honda Pilot), but I see no evidence that they deployed. Surely they should have in this type of accident, right?

I am very glad to hear that you are all doing well. I am a seat nazi, too, with a harnessed almost 5 year old and a RFing 2.5 year old 36 lber. I do wish more people were as cautious with their precious cargo.

Anne said...

Airbags are tricky things. The session I attended at KIM last year on airbags was very enlightening about sensor design.

Because airbags can be more harm than good if they deploy under the wrong circumstances, generally 2 to 3 sensors for a particular airbag have to be triggered at the same time with a certain amount of force in order for an airbag to deploy. Because of the unique circumstances of our crash, based on what I know about location of sensors, it's quite probable that the sensors were triggered one at a time because of the crash sequence, and therefore did not deploy. But I am not a vehicle engineer and that's just an educated guess. :)

pete said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and I am very grateful for the emphasis being put on the absolute importance of carseat safety.

It is also very important to keep in mind in choosing the proper carseat for your child.

1. The government has put certain guidelines for parents to follow when purchasing the proper carseat. The most important to remember is the weight and age guidelines.

I know there has been talk about keeping your child in a carseat past a certain age, and I am also one of those mothers, but my daughter is very small for her age. It is safe to move your child into the next level of carseat if they meet the guidelines set by the carseat company.

Next, I cannot stress the utter importance of proper installation, and belt placement and secureness of both car and booster seats.

If you choose to install these by yourself make sure you read the manuals all the way through and follow the directions very carefully.

If you are unsure if you installed it correctly, take it to the nearest fire station. Every fire station has at least on fireman on duty at any given time who is certified to properly install car and booster seats.

Last, and I cannot stress this enough, make sure your child is properly secured.

In a car seat, the belts going over the the childs shoulders is right at, or right below the shoulders.

The clasp on the carseat should always be secured right at the child's armpits, never below that.

There should be no more than two fingerwidths of room between your child's body and the belts.

In a booster seat, always make sure the child is properly secured just as you would for yourself.

The lap belt should be placed across the top of the lap. Having the lap belt across the abdomincan cause serious internal injury or even death. The shoulder belt should never touch the child's neck. If there is any question about this there are tools and clips to use to secure this belt to keep it in place.

What I've outlined here is just as important to practice as safe driving is.

CarseatNanny said...

Pete,
Thank you for commenting. I forwarded the information to Anne, and she has contacted you. I deleted your comment to protect your phone number (I couldn't find a way to just edit that out).

Annonymous,
The government sets minimum requirements as their guidelines. It's up to the parents to research and find out what is safest for their child. I don't know who you are or how old your child is, but some of your comments concern me, so I want to address them here. You said "It is safe to move your child into the next level of carseat if they meet the guidelines set by the carseat company." Again, these are minimum guidelines. For example, most seats say a child that is 1 year and 20 pounds meets the minimum requirements to be forward facing. That is not safe, children between 12 and 24 months are 500% safer rear facing. Another example, some boosters say their minimum is 3 years and 30 pounds. No WAY should a 3o pound 3 year old be in a booster. Booster minimums should be 4 years AND 40 pounds- which again, is a minimum.

Also, not every fire station has a Child Passenger Safety Technician. In fact, most don't. Make sure the person you have helping with your seats is a CPST, certified by Safe Kids Worldwide.

You state the harness should be right at or below the child's shoulders. That is correct for rear facing. But for forward facing the harness should be right at or above the shoulders.

"There should be no more than two finger widths of room between your child's body and the belts." That is the old teaching. The new method is you shouldn't be able to pinch a horizontal line of slack at the child's shoulders.

As far as belt placement with a booster, I have a blog post that addresses that issue.

ThreeBeans said...

Hey Anne,

Just wanted to let you know that I learned way back when that the speed limit is considered the max speed you are allowed to drive when the conditions are *perfect*: i.e., clear, light, no sun-glare, no ice, no road debris, no heavy traffic, etc, and that if any of those conditions aren't meant you aren't supposed to drive the limit (which is why it's a limit, after all, not a minimum). The trooper who taught my EVOC course also explained that if you are going the 'speed limit' but if any of the conditions are not 'perfect' he can and does ticket people for driving at speeds in excess of what is reasonable for road conditions, or something like that.

On highways, I tend to drop my speed to 5-10mph below the 'limit' at night (yes, this doesn't make me very popular, LOL!), keeping in mind that my headlights don't necessary illuminate my actual full stopping distance, and I keep a minimum of one car length behind the car in front of me for every 10 mph I'm driving.

Driving Safety Tips said...

I'm so glad to hear your friend Anne and her family survived this terrible accident. Her story is a testament to car seat safety for our little ones - their lives are so fragile and we must do all we can to protect them!

Anonymous said...

Trooper Tom, headlights are aimed a certain way by law (at least in my state and the one I lived in previously). That aim is designed to give illumination for a 30 mph stopping distance. Do you propose that I not drive faster than 30 mph on an unlit road at night? I live in a suburban area, where the spacing of cars is dense enough that I cannot use my brights to gain extra illumination and thereby extra stopping distance.

I don't mean this snarkily and I hope you don't take it as such. I want to hear your opinion on this.

Erin H said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, and I am so glad that everyone made it out alive.
Would it be okay for me to share this on my blog site as well as on FB? I'm a car seat technician and am constantly trying to explain the importance of not only rear facing, but harnessing children safely and properly....

CarseatNanny said...

ErinH,
Please feel free to pass on this story. Via you blog, your FB, or whatever. If you want to copy word for word from my blog, that's fine, just please link back to me.

Erin H said...

CarseatNanny,
Here is a link to what I blogged on, including the link to your blog for this amazing story.
Thanks for allowing me to use it!
http://aharderlife.blogspot.com/2011/05/why-rear-facing-is-so-important.html

Ben said...

Not sure if you have seen this already.
http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_on_child_carseats.html

Anonymous said...

I agree with Trooper tom, Congrats on being safe but if he was driving "Safely' it never would of happened end of story.

Naomi Champy said...

No matter how careful you are, sometimes luck is simply not on your side. You are very, very lucky that no one died because of that crash. Judging by the pictures, it could have easily done a whole lot more harm. The advanced safety features definitely saved your life. But I admire your presence of mind to know what to do and what not to do in an accident. I hope many people would learn from this.

Liesel Basil said...

I agree, its good that you know what to do in case of emergencies like this. Being aware and having the know-how will keep you alive. And good thing the paramedics were quick to arrive. They saved the day.

new york city injury attorney said...

Oh god. There is disaster everywhere.

The Car Crash Detective said...

It's years after you made the post, but I'm glad you're okay. I write about these stories on a daily basis, and this is precisely why.