keeping them safe

Yesterday I was all set to write about my rant of the day, when the day just seemed to get away from me.

It was old people driving. And I don’t really mean in it a funny, ha-ha, those old people kind of way. I mean in it in a my God why are these people still allowed to drive.

When I had to get my driver’s licernse renewed this summer there was an elderly woman getting her license renewed. She could not walk from the seat to the counter unassisted. She could not read the paperwork in front of her. She could barely hold the pen and sign her name, she was shaking that much.

I was standing behind her and her “helper” and when I got up to my turn I said, “Now she isn’t getting a driver’s license, is she?” Oh I thought I was being funny.

“Why yes, she is.” the woman answered.

I looked back to the waiting area where this frail woman was sitting, and looked back at the woman behind the counter. “That is just frightening.” I said.

And it is frightening. While I feel bad for old people and the loss of independence that would come form no longer being able to drive, there should be some sort of testing that occurs once you reach a certain age.

Then today I got a email in my inbox from a mother who lost her 3 yr old son. A elderly senile driver and a seatbelt in a car that gave way.

And well, watch it for yourself and become educated.

23 Responses to “keeping them safe”

  1. wookie Says:

    To be honest, this makes me angry at automakers (and carseat manufacturers. If standard seats and seat belts are so horrifically flawed that a reasonably sized child (not a toddler or preschooler) can be maimed or killed, why do they not address the issue at that level? Why are harnesses not a standard feature in cars? Most mini-vans have removeable seats, why do they not a second version of the seat for children, one with an integral 5 point harness? Do they value our women and chidren so little that every safety device (airbags, seatbelts) for a vehicle are designed for a 6ft man? Or is that an urban legend?

    And why don’t boosters have a tether strap?

    I have 2 kids who are at a sitters during the day because I work. I have to remove, untether, unanchor the seats every morning and replace them in the evening. I have to wrestle my body into the car to put my full weight on each seat with my knees so that the seatbelt part of the anchor is properly tight, test to make sure the belt locks properly and wrestle with shortening and lengthening the tether straps and making sure they have no slack.

    If I do it properly, this can take 20 minutes. It’s challenging to take the time to do it properly when you’ve got 2 kids clinging to your ankles, wanting to go home and be fed, telling you what happened at school, whining that someone wouldn’t share the kitchen toys. It’s even worse if it’s raining, sleeting, cold and windy.

    Oh, and did I mention how impossible it is to do it while very pregnant?

    My pipe dream is foolproof, user friendly seating in vehicles that can be adjusted to be safe for all ages and sizes.

  2. Wendy Says:

    There are carseats out there that are more user friendly, but they are much more expenisve. The Safeseats and Safeguard seats have been said to be easier to install and have a device to make sure they stay securely in place. The problem is the Safeseat is about $235 and the Safeguard seat is over $400.

    Another interesting tidbit, that I didnt know, is that the lower anchors are meant for kids under 48 lbs. I havent checked my manual, yet, but both my kids are way under that weight. I read this on my birthboard on Babycenter, so I am not sure how true it is. However, everyone should check their manuals to check.

  3. Katie Says:

    How horrifying. There are only a few options I’ve found to keep kids in 5-point harnesses beyond forty pounds. Here they are:

    Safety 1st Apex 65 - 20-65 pounds
    Britax Regent - 22-80 pounds
    SafeGuard Child Seat - 22-65 pounds

    The Safety 1st is on sale right now for $99 at

  4. Susan Says:

    I cried from start to finish. And then I passed it along to everyone I know who has kids.

    Thank you.

  5. Paige Says:

    I didn’t watch the video and after reading the comments I don’t think I’m going to.

    But WOW do I have the same pet peeve about elderly drivers. It makes me BANANAS. I agree- I think once you hit a certain age, yearly testing or bi annual testing should be a prerequisite to getting your license renewed.

  6. Brigitte Says:

    I cried start to finish too . . .

    Much as I’d LOATH to go through testing again myself, maybe everyone should be retested every five years or so - AARP can’t scream about old folks being singled out that way, and it does seem that the majority of drivers I see could use a refresher course on the basic “Right of Way” rules.

  7. Karen Rani Says:

    Paige - you should watch the video. While it made me cry, I learned something very important. I’ll be showing my husband this tonight and seeing what is available for 5 point harnesses for my kids. Thomas’ carseat is rated up to 80 lbs with a 5 point, but Dylan is in a booster and I think we will get him something safer. Thank you Chris.

    Ditto on the elderly drivers. Besides alcohol, fatigue and delayed reactions and mistakes are huge causes of traffic accidents. EVERYONE should be re-tested, in a car with an instructor, every 5-10 years. EVERYONE.

  8. Mom on the Gulf Coast Says:

    Paige, it’s not gory or shocking, the video, just very sad. That said, I too cried shortly after the start until the end. I have also passed this information on to people who have young children who are in booster seats. Mine have a few pounds to go but we will keep this in mind for the future.

    Question Chris. Are your three youngest still in car seats or has the 5yo moved into a booster? I’m curious if they are, how you manage so many special seats in that large van of yours.

    Thank you for sharing. I wish retesting for DL’s were mandatory after a certain age too, say 65? However, I don’t envy the politician who tries to push that agenda, AARP has a tremendous amount of political pull.


  9. Mir Says:

    Gah, I was almost okay until the end. We call Monkey Bubby as well.

    In our crash last year, the kids’ shoulder belts didn’t lock up (despite being properly buckled in boosters). We decided it was a fluke but now I’m not so sure. :(

  10. Ang Says:

    In Illinios drivers are required to road test after they turn 75, every year, I believe. My husband’s grandma lost her liscense, but not until she was given several chances to retake. It is frightening, and frustrating.

  11. Christina Says:

    Katie and Chris, thank you both. Katie, I am buying 2 new carseats today for my 5yo and 3yo, I don’t think they’ll fit properly in my husbands car but they are in my van 95% of the time anyway. Chris, I am glad to have this information, the carseat manufacturer’s had me really confused but now I know.

  12. rachel Says:

    thank you for sharing this. how horrible and sad. I’m in tears for the family, and so angry at the auto makers.

    My older two (6 and 8) are in boosters, and in our current car we couldn’t fit the larger seats (3 seats across the back of a wagon). I’m going out the the car now to latch on the tether for the 3year old, though. And when we get a van we’ll think seriously about moving them back into 5 point harnesses.

    What a tragedy.

  13. a Says:

    Gosh, I cried so hard. I have the same dilema. My two youngest are at that age where they are too big for the car seats, but the boosters just dont seem safe enough and unfort we have an older car that does not have the tethers. So what are you supposed to do, if the seatbelt gives away?? Scares me to death. I need a new car.

  14. Julie Q Says:

    If you thought the video was heartwrenching, the memorial website was even more so. It makes me want to cherish every second with my kids — and never again say “I’m too busy right now.” I thought it was beautiful the way the mother (on the website) says that she has no regrets about the 3 years she spent with her son. How many of us can truly say that?

    I was wondering where you heard that the driver who hit them was elderly and senile. The mother doesn’t mention this in her description of the accident and I couldn’t find any description of the other driver in on-line accident reports.

  15. Sandy Says:

    I too am wondering where I can attach the tethers on my carseats. My van is just barely too old to have LATCH in it.

    Also, if the seatbelts give way like that, is *anyone* really safe? They don’t make 5-point harnesses for teenagers or adults!

  16. sophiagrrl Says:

    The video is saddening, and we should all take the precautions we can. But in the end, the secret to protecting our children in cars is to avoid the accidents in the first place. So I’m MUCH more infuriated that incompentent drivers can’t be stopped. Even when a lil old lady’s license is taken away, she can drive illegally. It’s crazy how many accidents are caused by folks just driving without a license.

    Anyhow, I’m a bit fringe in my increasing unhappiness with cars and having to drive at all. I’m shocked when my friends drive their babies around to get them to sleep but then think nothing of obsessing over the safety points of every high chair out there or panic if their baby falls asleep on her belly. Cars are exponentially more life-threatening than a high chair or the occassional bely nap. We just can’t grasp the mortality rates associated with cars, all of em, big or small.

    The men in white jackets will come for me shortly, but in the meantime, my lil girl is in a car maybe 2X a week. And I’m encouraging my elderly grandmother to move so she can walk to things. And I constantly nag my husbands grnadmother (84) to STOP driving. But her family bought her a house where she can’t get anywhere by walking. Argh…. oh well.

  17. eko Says:

    I just wish to thank you, Chris and Bubby’s mama for helping to educate us! My 6yo is in a booster, and has been whining to just sit in the regular seat - and I have actually been thinking. “maybe”

    The newer car seat is what I want for Christmas. The driving of the elderly in this town (and some others - that I will not mention or be considered un-pc!) scares the shit out of me.

    I will always remember my father, in the very early stages of alzheimer’s, giving up all rights to ever driving again. This was a man filled with intense pride, and sometimes ego ;-) - but made the wise and selfless decision to NO LONGER DRIVE. AND he had just recently purchased his first dream car, a sports car - no longer had to get a family car (as we were finally all out of the house - six kids).

    Thank you for this - and thank you DAD - James E.W.

  18. Katie Says:

    I had top tethers installed in two of my sedans at the dealership, even though I didn’t buy either car through a dealership. It’s really a quick process and cost me nothing through Toyota and $10 each through Dodge.

  19. Julie Says:

    RE: the elderly and their licenses…when I went to traffic school once many moons ago the instructor said that one of the reasons they pass so many people that really shouldn’t be driving (not just elderly but mostly-blind, etc.) is that if the state DMV declares them unable to drive then they have to also pay them disability…or something like that…it was TX…and like 11 years ago but it was a little scary to hear.

  20. Alice H Says:

    Three year olds are NEVER supposed to ride in that kind of booster seat. Boosters are meant for kids 4 years old AND 40 pounds and up.

    We haven’t moved my son into a booster, even though he’s over 4 years old. At his four year checkup he was 37 pounds, which put him above the 80th percentile for weight.

    @wookie - Making seating that’s adjustable to be safe for a large variety of weights and heights offers more possible failure points. It might make more sense for you to purchase a couple of extra car seats, or if your kids are small enough, buy a car seat that snaps into a base and just buy an extra base. You’re going to need extra car seats anyway with another one on the way, and it’s going to take you at least 1.5 times as long to move the carseats when you have three kids. Another thing to remember, in case you’re planning on reusing your previous carseats: it’s important to not use a carseat more than six years past its manufacture date. Parts degrade, and the seat may no longer meet current safety standards.

  21. T in HD Says:

    They don’t make 5 pts. that go much beyond the 40 lbs. limit here in Germany and some bpb’s are actually marketed for children as young as **9 mos. old**. They also don’t make seats here with tethers (with the exception of one rather heavy bpb). I’ve gone through incredible stress and money to keep my kids in American seats so that my toddlers could remain rear-facing and my older kids could stay in 5 pt. seats. My 9 y.o. has been a bpb for a year now, since outgrowing her 5 pt., which her 6 y.o. brother is now in. We can’t fit a Britax Regent in the back seat with two other carseats, so a bpb was our only choice. In any case, she is too near the weight limit now anyway. But I still hate that she is in a bpb and won’t be happy when her brother outgrows the 5 pt. *Everyone* would be safer in 5 pt. belts, not just children.

    Carseat/car safety is a soapbox issue for me. We don’t even allow the kids to have sippy cups or hard objects in a moving car. Something as small an unsecured mobile phone could kill a person in a crash. I so often see people string wooden, beaded toys on the handles of infant carriers, which hang down in front of the baby’s face. What on earth do these people think that toy will do in an accident????? Slam right into that baby’s face, what else?

    Thanks for addressing some of these issues in your blog, Chris. Your blog is popular and you are helping to pass along a valuable message.

  22. C. Says:

    There shouldn’t be a test just because you are of a certain age. I know plenty of wildly adventerous 80 year olds and I know just as many agile 80 year olds. Yes I agree not everyone should be entitled to a license but there are spanish speaking illegal immigrants who walk right into the transportation department who receive license without reading a lick of english (scary to think they are on the roads too). There should be something that modifies just who gets a drivers license because quite frankly I don’t want to ride with anyone who can’t see, read, or write on their own.

  23. Chris Says:

    On my way to buy a new carseat for my middle child. He won’t be in his booster anymore.