Five Top Tips for Car Seat Sanity
By Jon Sumroy
I am mad
Bangkok, Thailand. Six of us crammed into a two-seat Tuk-Tuk (a three-wheel rickshaw). My wife, four children and me; careering through the traffic, the pedestrians, the lights and the fumes. Wind in our faces, legs out the sides, bags piled on laps. It’s part of the culture, the experience, the vacation. But it’s crazy!
We’re never so reckless at home: never allowing more people than seatbelts, always fastened, luggage stored correctly, respecting the laws of the road. Why do humans so easily excuse ourselves, ignore common sense, justify our actions and take ridiculous risks?
Everyone is mad
Yet we do this every day, with our children.
Fifty percent of US kids don’t have the correct booster seat when carpooling. One in five parents whose children carpool say they “bend the rules”, allowing children to ride without belts, booster or child restraints. Two-thirds of parents say they notice other carpool drivers bending the rules, too.
And it’s not just in our own cars. Taxis are exempt from the car seat laws, but this does not make them safe. Rental car companies extort $5 a day, for a seat; covered in another child’s dinner or worse. On vacation, when the airline won’t allow extra hand luggage. With a friend, relative or neighbor for a quick journey round the corner. Even with safety seats, you can’t fit three in a row, so it’s “scissors/paper/stone” to see who takes the risk. And then we have big kids. Not big enough to graduate to adult seatbelts, but big enough to fell babyish compared to their peers who have. How many parents succeed in the daily fight; or just give in.
Five Top Tips for Car Seat Sanity
So what to do? Well, it comes down to planning and discipline.
You always have carseats for your own children but not for others in the pool. Set up a routine: leave your child’s seat with school bags overnight, ready for the next day when the carpool arrives. Lobby schools to provide storage so seats will be available for the journey home.
It’s about time-management. Build time into every plan to juggle the boosters from car to car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report more than 20 percent of parents rarely talk about the type of restraint their own child uses in another person’s car. Whenever someone else takes your child, have the ‘carseat’ discussion.
I was mad in Thailand, but you don’t need to be. Consider you carseats as valuable luggage. Wrap it well, check it in, add ‘fragile’ labels, examine for damage and use it on every journey.
I had a long conversation recently with a leading rental agency employee. He confided that, in the cut-throat world of car rentals, margin are so slim that they can make more money renting the booster seats than they do the cars. A typical booster cost $30 and they can rent it out for $5 a day for six months. Do the math! It’s not surprising that they are dirty and disgusting. Take your own carseats! You know its history and you know where it’s been.
We all have to make sacrifices. And this is one. There are very few cars, even large ones, designed to accommodate three carseats in a row. Manufacturers add space and comfort to the side seats at the expense of the middle. Don’t take the risk! A child who needs a carseat, needs a carseat. In a collision, the injuries a child sustains when only using the adult seatbelt can be horrific. Please … just don’t do it.
Now is the time for some future gazing. Would’t it be great is there was a booster seat that was so small, yet so safe, it would be easy for a child to have it with them at all times. Something so advanced, compact and portable, it could be stored almost anywhere. That way children could always be safe, no matter whose car they were in. Watch this space http://igg.me/at/mifold/.
About the author: Jon Sumroy is the inventor and CEO of mifold – the Grab-and-Go booster seat, the most advanced, compact and portable booster seat in the world. mifold is more than 10x smaller than a regular booster seat and just as safe.
 Carpooling and Booster Seats: A National Survey of Parents – PEDIATRICS Vol. 129 No. 2 February 1, 2012 pp. 290 -298(doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0575)
 Many kids using safety belts should ride in booster seats – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute – Status Report, Vol. 49, No. 9 | November 6, 2014