tied to me tight tie me up again

1/9/07

Those without kids avert your eyes; this is the kind of talk that’ll make you think that the act of childbirth turns us all into blubbering, precious, drama queens. BUT… I’m sure most of you parents have read Consumer Reports’ test of baby car seats: ten of the top twelve sellers failed catastrophically at speeds over 30 mph. Crash test dummies were violently thrashed, and one flew thirty feet through the window. These seats include, no doubt, yours, and certainly the one we used, the every-yuppie-has-one Peg Perego Primo Viaggio.

Remember, these are crashes at less than 40 mph, far slower than many you’ve seen on the freeway. One of the main culprits was the LATCH system that comes standard on almost all new cars. It’s those little metal closed hooks that are buried in the fold of the back seat (along with four french fries, a packet of used ketchup and eleven cents in loose change). I was so psyched to snap in li’l baby Peanut Lucy into her LATCH, thinking that crappy car seats were a thing of the past. Instead, the LATCH system – and all of these baby seats – became an industry-wide fuckup that is Corvair or lawn darts or tobacco in scale.

Except that only four people ever died playing Jarts, and they were drinking. This is the kind of corporate suck-my-dick move that means someone in Accounting did the math and calculated the cost of your child’s life in litigation fees, and projected it against future profit. Worse, you’ve got government agencies like the apparently useless NHTSA barely bothering to tell us that “LATCH is confusing” and exhorting us not to worry about it.

Well, actually, I am going to worry about it. Look, I am not some ninny parent who keeps their kid in a hyperbaric chamber and feeds them nothing but organic flax. We lead pretty big lives and we schlep the Buglet from one continent to the other, despite the fact she won’t remember any of it.

But I spent my early years in Cedar Rapids, IA during the 1970s, when it seemed like nary a season would pass without some family being visited by some motorcrash horror or another. Simple trips to the Hy-Vee would become gruesome accidents with memorial services; kids would have their faces disfigured; innocuous jaunts to Shakey’s Pizza would become cautionary tales for generations. There were seven of us in that household and I’m still blessedly thankful we all made it out intact.

If this LATCH system is actually worse than just hooking the seat belt through the car seat base, then it’s a massive failure of initiative and imagination, an unconscionable breach of trust, and an unnatural rewinding of the technological clock. We should treat car seat makers Evenflo and Britax – as well as government oar-draggers like the NHTSA – with the same respect we give Halliburton and Philip Morris.

In the meantime, I guess the only solution for newborns is to ditch the expensive seat you got at the baby shower for the only two seats CR could recommend. We should also demand two more belts: one attaching to the floor in front of the baby seat, and another that stretches behind, like the toddler seats we use now.

Oh, and duct-tape mattresses around your car, fill your back seat with styrofoam peanuts, and don’t drive over 15 mph. That oughta do it.

0 thoughts on “tied to me tight tie me up again

  1. killian

    posted before finished—And yet the thought of my beloved nephews in LATCH and getting hurt makes my blood boil. We ARE trying to be safer; how can things be getting WORSE? ARRGH.

    Reply
  2. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Yeah, no one can get the car seat safety technology right. . . . but what about that Apple iPhone? Did you buy one? Are you going to get one? Just wondering. It looks cool.

    Reply
  3. Jody

    This works like motorcycle helmets. The best are an $800 German brand and the brand ZR. It is hard to find a ZR that costs more than $100. They look like Charlie Brown/Peppermint Patty helmets. It was a very controversial test result and most riders don’t actually “believe” it. Most helmets run $200-500.
    Safety glass is another LATCH type invention. I think they invented it to keep wrecks from looking so gruesome for the observers, but apparently the incidence of brain damage and concussion type damage is far greater.
    Since our Land Rover D90 didn’t have a back seat, I rigged our son’s GRACO up with custom straps, much like the toddler seats. It was never put to the test. Oh well…
    I second Laurie, you paid $230 for a car seat!
    That’s as bad as eating NOKA chocolate. Buy on, yuppies, buy on!

    Reply
  4. scruggs

    I’m all for paying for safety, but didn’t think there was any difference b/w the Peg and our Snug Ride except for the $ (the Peg base alone costs $70!). Of course, we have 2 of the Britax high dollar boosters (new on ebay), but think they are safer and they work for bigger kids. Sorry, always kind of laugh when I see those Peg Perego strollers go by…Dude, $300. Though I guess in NY with Kensington Prams for $3k and Stokke strollers Peg is not as outlandish as in the burbs of “America’s heartland.” Did get my Peg high chair new (“last years model”) on ebay for $50.
    Your link had this as shocking:
    Infant car seats sold in Europe undergo more rigorous testing than do models sold in the U.S. Indeed, when we crash-tested an infant seat we bought in England, it was the best in our tests. An infant seat sold in the U.S. by the same manufacturer failed
    Nice.

    Reply
  5. GFWD

    We read up and purchased the Britax Boulevard car seat for our little one. It’s big enough for him to use until he gets to college, I think. At $299 a pop, it BETTER last that long. We actually got two, one for each car. It wasn’t one of the seats tested.
    We had the Graco travel system that passed the tests when he was an infant. Never any worries there. I hope we never have to know what it’s like to see the next size car seat in action.
    After seeing a link on YouTube.com about a mom whose son died because of a faulty car seat, I told my wife she was trading in her car and we were getting her a Hummer. Damn the environment and the gas mileage. I wanted the kid in a tank.
    So far, common sense has prevailed, and she’s still in her economical Honda CR-V. But if I keep hearing horror stories, I’m getting a Sherman tank with an auxilary jack for my iPod and some “spinner” treads. Hey Scruggs, you think I could find parking for a tank at the Grille?

    Reply
  6. LFMD

    Jody and Scruggs: I am so unhip that I had to google Noka and Stokke. Egads! At that price, do Noka chocolates contain illegal substances? And, it is just me or does the Stokke stroller look as though it is at risk of tipping over. Looks a bit flimsy to me.
    Over Christmas, I was giving my brother lots of grief for wearing Lucky jeans. I thought only Gwyneth et al wore them. Do you guys wear Lucky jeans?
    I am such a simple person. Just a simple girl with a simple suburban dream.

    Reply
  7. Deb

    With our little one on the way in 6 weeks, we’d already registered for the $99 Graco SnugRide (one of the two approved), but hadn’t bought it yet. My mom tried to find it shortly after the Consumer Reports article came out, and had a dilley of a time locating one. I don’t think it’ll be a scarcity of Cabbage Patch proportion, but if you’re in the market, I’d try and get one asap.

    Reply
  8. scruggs

    GFWD, if you EVER get a Hummer (no snickering)you’d better not put a Carolina sticker on it! But with a tank (did Sherman leave one behind?
    ) you could make your own parking space at the Grille, fer sure. Did I tell you we bought a MINIVAN right before Christmas. Don’t laugh, it does have an auxillary for the ipod.
    LFMD, they were selling Lucky jeans at our Costco! I told my husband I was going to buy him some hip jeans. Did you ever see a Saturday Night Live skit about “Mom Jeans?” LOVE IT.

    Reply
  9. GFWD

    Scruggs, if I ever get a Hummer . . . SUV, I wouldn’t tarry with a puny sticker. I’d paint that bitch Carolina blue, slap the number 50 on either side and call it “PSYCHO T”.
    You did tell me about the minivan. You got a good deal, as I recall. The Sienna, right?
    I’m not getting a Hummer, but I do like the idea of being in large vehicle which got hit and walking around the vehicle to see a “scratch” while the other car is hauled away with a cruched front end. It’s not a comforting feeling on the Connector every morning being eye-to-bumper with soccer moms and dads being distracted applying make-up or talking on the phone while my son and I are on the way to daycare.

    Reply
  10. Claudia

    And as I write this, there are TWO brand new $200 Britax Companions in my parents’ basement, waiting to be opened. Fuck.

    Reply
  11. LFMD

    Scruggs — Lucky jeans at the Costco?? Does that mean that they are on the downward slide of the hipness bell curve? I will have to warn him. . . . he might have to switch to citizens of humanity jeans.
    I have not seen the mom jeans skit, but if they have anything to do with elastic waistbands and spit-up stains, I am quite familiar with that brand.

    Reply
  12. Sarah

    I have a friend who’s an engineer for Graco. He told me a few years ago all about the testing, design, etc. of car seats. One of the biggest things he mentioned was that the more expensive car seats are not at all safer…

    Reply
  13. lola

    I’m surprised you went for the Peg car seat. If you look at good old Consumer Reports, the Graco has a simialr rating but is much less $$$.
    I will say give me a Peg over a Graco stroller anyday.

    Reply
  14. Ian

    In our defense, the Peg Perego was the best car seat we researched back in 2004, when we were looking at such things. $230 vs $99 shouldn’t really matter when it comes to your baby’s safety, unless, of course, a report comes out like this that shows you were hoodwinked like we were.
    GFWD, I know you were kidding about buying a Hummer, but just so the info’s out there: you and are your kids are MUCH LESS SAFE in an SUV. They are much less easy to handle, prone to driver overcorrection leading to head-on collisions and have a flip-over rate that would give circus performers pause. Not to mention the damage they cause to people in regular cars. Hundreds of studies conform this, but Malcolm Gladwell did an amazing piece on it in the New Yorker:
    http://academics.smcvt.edu/dmindich/Gladwell%20Big%20and%20Bad.htm
    The safest cars on the road? Sedans with the full airbag package, including the curtain airbags, all side doors, etc… cars like small Volvos, the Mini, Prius, etc… bizarre, eh?

    Reply
  15. Neva

    Ian, you beat me to the punch which is that I think the car you put the car seat in matters much more than the seat. I see so many Moms in big SUVs who think that’s safer for their kids and it’s not. The curtain air bags are key I think.

    Reply
  16. GFWD

    Ian, et. al., yes I was kidding.
    I drive the safest sedan that I can afford–the V6 Honda Accord. Curtain, side, driver’s side and passenger airbags. And I always bring along extra pillows just in case. That was the smart call for us when we bought back in 2003 with an eye towards procreating.
    I just hate that more often than not, the vehicles next to me on the highway have their bumpers about eye-level. And there are no airbags on my windows and windshield.
    When I drive in my wife’s smaller SUV, however, I am immediately cognizant of how much it does not handle like my sedan. And I have to curb my speed on turns, both slight and sharp.
    And I still don’t like the Mini’s. Cute at a beach, but I still can’t get excited about a car whose ass is smaller than mine.

    Reply
  17. cullen

    My only-when-absolutely-necessary ACS, with emphasis on the ACCIDENTal: big strong green tree leaves in place of Charmin/tissue. Trail runners be prepared.
    Is their an FM transmitter (aside from the webcast) that can get me WFUV (Fordam radio)loud and clear, no matter where I am? I’ve found that station to be an indispensable source of new music about which I can actually be optimistic (unlike the current ‘top 40’ charts).

    Reply

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