Is your child’s life worth 20 minutes of your time?

According to SafeKids.org, motor vehicle accidents are the leading killer of children 1 to 19 years old in the US. The best way to protect your child is to put them in the right safety seat, which is properly installed, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. When used properly, child safety and booster seats are proven “life savers,” reducing the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.

Car seats are a hot-button for me. It’s a simple step, but ignoring it could literally get your child killed. I understand that Ducklings don’t like to be restrained. Believe me, I know how physically exhausting it can be to get a good install – especially on a rear-facing seat. And don’t get me started on installing a car seat in a two-door. I get that it’s a hassle to check the install and fit every time you get in the car. But we’re genuinely talking about life and death.

Full disclosure: I have ZERO patience for the reasons that parents and caregivers give for skipping this step. Some of the most common excuses in my experience:

He really hates being in a car seat, he cries the whole time. What I am supposed to do – let him cry the whole trip?

Yep, let him cry the whole trip. Ideally, you would have the opportunity to take several short rides around town *with the baby properly restrained in the car seat* to get him acclimated to riding in the seat. But that’s not always doable – particularly if you’re a foster parent who has to drive to pick up a child.

I’ve listened to a child screaming in her seat for an entire 90-minute drive – it broke my heart to let her cry, but we had to make the trip, and she had to go with us, so she had to ride in her seat. I rode where I could see her and she could see me, and I tried talking to her, soothing, singing, playing, etc, throughout the drive. But at no point did I indicate that getting out of the car seat was an option. Evidently she figured that out, because she didn’t make a peep on the way back. And hasn’t since.

I’m just driving right around my small town and I’m really careful and I only go 25 mph.

Are you really willing to bet your baby’s life that everyone else in your little small town is really careful and only going 25 mph? Or that a cow won’t dart out in front of you? (I don’t know how small your town is)

Yes, I know that cows don’t really “dart”, so we’ll let that go for now. For argument’s sake, let’s say no one in your little town drives over 20 mph. Then one day, as you’re very carefully, very slowly, driving down the main road, Miss Daisy (going in the opposite direction) swerves to dodge a squirrel and hits you head-on. No problem, right? You’re both only driving 20 mph, so it’s a minor impact, right? Except airbags can deploy when the vehicle crashes at speeds over *12 mph*. And when it does deploy, the airbag is moving at between 62 and 180+ mph. So if little Suzy is sitting on your lap (probably near eye-level with the top of the steering wheel) when that airbag deploys….

We didn’t have car seats when I was a kid, and I turned out just fine!

Ok, fair enough. Do you also let your kid eat lead paint and spend all day in chain-smoking Uncle Ned’s second-hand smoke? If your answer is yes, you win – it’s probably better if you limit your influence in the gene pool, anyway.

What other excuses have you heard for not taking the time to protect your child from the leading cause of death in children? Let me know in the comments.

7 Comments

  1. Tamalamadingdong

    You seem like such a good parent! I really believe “sticking to your guns” is key in raising children… there are so many instances where I see parents breaking their own rules when it comes to their children. Kudos to you! All of the children that come into your life are going to be enriched by your presence. Keep shining your light and touching the lives of those little souls.

    Reply
    1. Duck Mommy

      Thanks Tamala! I try. I get pretty frustrated with parents that refuse to parent. And believe when I say that I meet *a lot* of them – not all through foster care. I’m not saying I never give in about some of the smaller things, but I realize that if/when I do, I’m not doing anybody any favors.

      Reply
  2. Erica Fath

    I’ve come through many of the eras – when I was young, it was nothing to see my friends, cousins and I get packed into the back seats of cars or station wagons – six to the back seat of the VW bugs. That was the norm. There were no seat belts – never mind car seats.

    When my first two babes were born, there were no car seats and they were becoming fashionable as my youngest two were born. Nowadays, our hospitals here won’t even let you take the baby home from the hospital if you don’t bring your car seat to the hospital.

    Seat belts and car seats are now the law in most places. I resisted seat belts for decades. Yes – I have said it publically.

    Why? It’s simple – was it more important to be able to breath while driving the car or to have my seat belt on? Everyone else in the vehicle always had their seat belts on, just not me – and that’s mainly because I knew that if I was stopped, I’d get the ticket for everyone not buckled and I couldn’t afford a ticket like that. But I refused to wear the seat belt because it would cause to not be able to breath properly and hold the steering wheel with control. It’s only been since I got a newer vehicle in ’08 that I have started wearing a seat belt – that’s because the salesman recognized my problem and he ordered a special seat belt for me. No one had ever suggested that there were custom seat belts you could install.

    I personally have never know anyone who was “saved” in a crash because there were in a car seat or wearing their seat belt – but over my lifetime, I have lost two friends who were both the only ones killed in the crash and they were killed BECAUSE they were buckled up.

    So I have very mixed emotions on this topic. I encourage parents to use the car seats, especially if they are the only adult in the car – not because it saves lives, but because it saves the drivers sanity. If the kids are buckled, you don’t have to worry about what they are getting into or if they are accidently going to open the door. And I still encourage anyone getting into my vehicle to buckle up because I won’t be paying any fines for breaking the law, not because I think it might save their life.

    That’s my viewpoint from my lifetime experiences and I know it might upset others. I know what the government statics say – but when those statistics to match up to the statistics in your own personal group of connections, it’s hard to accept the statistic as the truth. But I do accept the law and try to live by it because it’s the law and that’s the only reason.

    Reply
    1. Duck Mommy

      Erica, thanks for the comment. I appreciate your input.

      Your opinion is actually very similar to my mother’s. Which is why none of my children will ever ride in a car where my mother is the responsible adult.

      I don’t have a problem with people choosing not to wear a seat belt – it’s only your own life that you’re risking.

      But I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone could actually understand the physics involved in a car accident and consciously choose not to properly restrain a child.

      Reply
    2. Erica Fath

      I agree with your statement about it being my own life and I tell my dad that whenever I drive in his car. He has one of those newer cars that has this horrendous beep if you’re not buckled up (it even beeps if you put your briefcase or bag on the seat) – but I simply cannot breath if we manage to get the seat belt buckled – it cuts me off at the throat. So we’ve learned that I buckle the seatbelt and then sit on it so the car doesn’t beep… and I’ve told him if we’re stopped, I will pay my own ticket.

      However – I hope you didn’t misunderstand me. Any child that get’s into my vehicle is buckled up. It’s been like that ever since I owned a vehicle that had a seat belt – remember, when my kids were young, there were no seat belts in cars and it was the mid nineties before I bought a vehicle that had seat belts.

      Having the children restrained (I had 4) sure meant a lot less fighting and such because they couldn’t reach each other to “bug” each other. Made for much more peaceful long road trips – of which we had many as we lived 90 minutes from the closest city where are doctors dentists and main shopping happened.

      I also think cars are built with safety in mind these day – so different from 50 years ago. I also know I’ll never have to question if my grandchildren are buckled because all my kids are firm seat belt enforcers.

      Only thing I’ve never figured out is – if seat belts and child seats are the law – what are public transportation systems exempt. I’ve lost count of how many toddlers I’ve seen fall off of the bus seats as the bus turns a corner. Just saying – I feel for the moms that are on the bus with their three kids and no seat belts.

      Reply
    3. Casey Mansfield

      So, here is how I feel. I was once in a near head-on collision at 45 mph (a driver turned in front of me into a driveway that didn’t exist, and my car hit their’s at the front/side as they were making their turn) WITH my seatbelt on, I came within inches of the windshield.

      If you are in my car, you are wearing your seatbelt. You can say it’s your right not to wear your’s, that’s it’s only affecting your life, but you’re absolutely wrong. My guess is that you’re more than 100 pounds. When traveling in a car that suddenly collides with another vehicle, a stationary object, or flips, you are now a 100+ pound threat to my life as you are flying about my vehicle unrestrained. Now it’s MY life that you are putting in danger, not just your’s. Now it’s MY CHILDREN’s life that you are putting in danger, not just your’s.

      When my son first came into our lives, he would freak in any restraining apparatus (car seats, high chairs, etc.) If he was tied in, he was scared and crying and screaming. BUT we never let him out of the car seat. It was difficult, yes. It was loud, yes. It was heart-breaking, absolutely. But it would have been worse had we been in an accident and hadn’t done our job in protecting him.

      Great topic, thanks for posting!!

      Reply
    4. Duck Mommy

      That’s a really good point, Casey! I hadn’t thought of that, but I have one of those cars that dings forever, so at least the front passenger gets a seatbelt, or the car doesn’t move.

      And I can’t imagine the pain of losing your child in a car accident, much less the knowledge that you could have protected them!

      Reply

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