September 27, 2010

But What Does The Constitution Say About Car Seats?

Let's just look at the FACTS, shall we?

bella_camo_pink.jpgFACT: Big Governmentocrats claim that the use of car seats and booster seats caused the 3% drop in 2009 of traffic accident fatalities for kids under 14.

BUT overall traffic fatalities dropped by 9.7% in 2009, almost three times as much. So doesn't that mean that car seats are actually killing our kids three times as fast as cars alone? Numbers don't lie! But what about nelected Democrats trying to wrap their five-point harnesses around red-blooded American babies like Ray Pelosi LaHood!?

FACT Though the Federal Thuggerment may have stolen the rights of kids 3 & under in all 50 states to ride free, valiant patriots in three states have resisted the Chavez-style booster seat putsch for kids 4-7. Fight The Power, Florida, New York, some other state I can't figure out from this confusing table, and the US Virgin Islands!! You're helping to keep booster seat use flat at 41 percent!

FACT Tom Paine AND Martin Luther King never used a booster seat.

FACT Under the guise of "free" car seat and booster seat inspections, NHTSA Czar David [Hussein] Strickland wants Americans to get used to asking the Federal Government's permission every time they leave the house: "We're urging everyone to get their children's safety seats inspected to make sure their kids are properly protected on every trip, every time."

FACT Now, I'm not racist or anything, but isn't it odd that in 2009, the first year of NObama, use of a car seat for kids 1-3 years old by Non-Hispanic African Americans [aka Muslims] jumped from 74% to 92%? [pdf] How old would a terror baby be in 2009, 1-3? JUST ASKING!

FACT Most American [aka White] kids have already fallen into Big Car Seats' clutches [99% of 0-1, 98% of 1-3, 93% of 4-7]. And Jose, can you see, by the dawnzerly light, that with lower safety restraint usage rates across the board [94% for 0-1, 88% for 1-3, and 74% for 4-7], Mexicans [aka Hispanic/Latinos] are the last line of defense for Our Freedom. The Anchor Sons of Liberty.

THAT OR they're flooding Our Highways with unrestrained kid-shaped projectiles, which they're waiting to launch through the windshield towards us while we're drive-texting. Either way, buy gold now.

Safety seats credited with reducing child deaths in vehicle crashes [ via fox news morning]
image: Baby Bella Maya Daddy Camo Hot Pink Ruffle Infant Car Seat Cover, $70


This post is strange enough that I'm considering unsubscribing from DaddyTypes in Google Reader

too subtle?

I'm with you Jim, there is so much plain strange and wrong that this has to be a joke lol! For example, some statistics do lie. When I looked into the stats listed, it turns out most kids who die in crashes were not even using car seat. I also looked into the laws and guidelines that were linked. Turns out, most were passed during the Bush administration. Go figure!

I hear camo + pink is supposed to be big this fall.

While the tone and completely ridiculous conclusions are, in fact, a joke, a parody, actually, of real baseless, distortive nonsense spouted by the likes of Glenn Beck and the Fox morning crew, and the near-meaningless stenography of the likes of the Washington Post, the underlying facts and statistics are not wrong at all.

But though the comparable 2009 report is not released yet, the 2008 Child Traffic Safety Report [pdf via] shows that depending on the age group, between 78 and 87% of under 8yos killed in auto accidents were using restraint devices. [Though the paragraph right below says 94 (32%) of the 282

If Bush deserves credit for anything, it's fighting the 8-year fight against federal-level regulations. Because the car and booster seat regulations are set by states, and so the whole confusing patchwork of when it's legal or even advised that parents switch car seats is a state-by-state thing, not a federal one. Though it does presumably screw up the federal statistics, which, by only looking at usage, don't seem to take into account compliance with the various state laws. For example, Florida and NY, two very populous states, don't require booster seats [NY has an exemption] after 4yo. Does that affect booster seat usage rates, or usage by Hispanic/Latinos? I would think so.

DOT/NHTSA really only has two messages for this Car Seat Awareness publicity thing they just did:

1) car and booster seats save lives, which, duh, almost everyone knows that and practices it. If there are exceptions like Hispanic/Latinos, then maybe an outreach program, or maybe working to rationalize safety regulations will make a difference. Make it the law. [Of course--and this was why I thought of this whole wingnut parody in the first place--I will bet anyone a dollar that if the Obama administration's Republican Secretary of Transportation published a report showing that national safety standards for car seat and booster seats would save kids' lives, there would be a teabag riot somewhere denouncing it as socialist muslimization. Though I would love to be wrong about that.]

And 2) parents seem to upgrade their kids to the next booster seat/car seat set up a little too soon, based either on weight, height, or safety recommendations. And they probably should not do that.

So if that's all the news they have to report, would anyone even bother to show up at NHTSA's press conference? No.

Certainly around hear, the upgrade guidelines (laws?) say "when X height AND Y age" but all the parents I know of read that "AND" as an "OR." I don't know if a two-variable system is just too confusing for them, or what.

Not too subtle. A spot on caricature of the tea-party rhetoric.

If you dial it up just another notch, you could cross-post at Stormfront's parents page (if there is such a thing, I refuse to even go there).

I believe there was an analysis by the Freakonomics guys about car seats that concluded that they do little in crashes. They found that seatbelt use was critical but car seats and booster seats? Not so much. The added value of a car or booster seat was that it might make it more likely that the kid would be restrained but that kids over age 2 who wore seatbelts were as safe in crashes as kids in car or booster seats.
Here's the article:
There was a lot of controversy at the time and several follow up letters and columns. But it seams that most of those disputing Levitt and Dubner were doing so based on the marketing and regulations to which we've all become accustomed. Levitt and Dubner were armed only with data.

If the data used by researchers who countered Dubner and Levitt was tainted by marketing and regulations, you could just as easily claim that the data used by Dubner and Levitt was tainted by marketing and book sales hype. My conclusion is that they were never disproven, at least based on the data they selected. It is also quite possible that they selected their data very carefully in order to get numbers that seemed to vary significantly from the numbers selected by peer-reviewed researchers in the medical and injury prevention field. I had some questions on this too . CHOP is the research hospital that produced a rebuttal to the conclusions of Dubner and Levitt and has published a number of studies in an effort to affect changes in state law: As a side note, though child safety seat use laws are indeed passed at a state level, the federal goverment strongly encourages these laws with significant money and grants through DOT and long standing appropriations like the SAFETEA act.

Levitt has stuck with his analysis over several years of back and forth. Did he and Dubner cherry pick their data? I don't know. But if we go down that route, whose data are we going to believe? See Levitt's blog post about Ray Lahood's respons: Lahood's quote in this post is pretty pathetic but Levitt again strongly defends his data and raises questions about the data used in competing studies.
So what do we know for sure about car seats? They have gotten bigger, heavier and more expensive. They are difficult to install as the majority are installed improperly. All this, and there is disagreement about their effectiveness. Someone (all of us?) should be re-thinking this. It does not seem to me that disagreements over the age to move from car seat to booster should be the concern here. These types of things amount to tinkering with legislation and practices that might be completely flawed.
My thoughts: I strap my kids into car seats that, as far as I know, are properly installed every time we're in a car (unless it's an NYC cab which our local government feels are too great a convenience to be compromised by car seat requirements). But I don't do so with the confidence that I am greatly increasing their safety.

My understanding of the issue is that carseats don't significantly improve safety over a seatbelt as long as the seatbelt is worn properly.

This means that as soon as the kid slips the shoulder strap behind them, slouches down under the hip strap, or plays with it in any way then the safety numbers go out the window. The seat may not be safer in and of itself, but a 5-point harness is a lot harder for them to get out of.

Lastly, sitting rear-facing has been shown to be safer, and it's a lot harder to sit rear-facing using just a seatbelt. For comparison, there are seats that allow rear-facing until 45lbs.

Yes, I referenced their response to NHTSA in the blog I linked. I can strongly defend bad or cherry picked data, too, even when multiple studies refute my own. That doesn't mean I am right, just because of my unwillingness to accept another point of view. Is this the case with their conclusions on car seats? I don't know. The 3 studies I link in my blog directly refute the Freakonomics data, so it comes down to who you believe. Researchers from governement and health care institutions who perhaps have a pre-determined conclusion or economists hawking a book that perhaps have a pre-determined conclusion. I don't think either group looked very objectively at the other's research or went out of their way with scientific method to disprove their own hypotheses. I have a technical background and have read the papers and I couldn't tell you who is right, but clearly the Freakonomics authors are much better at handling the press.

As for carseats, the top end may be more expensive, but the you can still buy models for around $50 at Walmart, Target and discount stores that are very reasonable. They may not have all the features the pricey models have, but they certainly aren't bigger, heavier or more expensive than those from 10-15 years ago.

Chris, you are right on target. The Freakonomics research has not considered misuse. The theory being that perhaps child seats with a 5-point harness are more frequently misused and that partially negates the practical physics and the theoretical advantage of being better coupled to the vehicle. I'm of the opinion that a correctly installed and used child restraint, especially rear-facing ones, are significanty better than a seatbelt for most kids. Where the statistics break down is that misuse is difficult to quantify. It may well be true that seatbelts offer a potentially safer alternative for parents who otherwise don't install or use their child seats correctly or perhaps have unsafe, expired or recalled models and can't afford a new one.

CPSDarren, you're right that the Freakonomics research did not consider misuse. But they do reference misuse in some conclusions/recommendations. They suggest that we
"Try to understand why, even after 30 years, the great majority of car seats are still not properly installed. After all this time, can we really blame it on the parents, or should the blame be put elsewhere?" We have a case here of an industry marketing a product, assisted by government regulations, that everyone knows is regularly used improperly...possibly leading to conditions that are no more safe (and possibly less so) than using seatbelts alone.

Seth, that is very plausible to me and about what I tried to say above. For a typical parent, you're gaining a lot just by having your kid restrained in a seatbelt or a carseat in the back seat (and also by driving unimpaired). For a parent who puts in the due diligence with the manual and installation or goes to see a local technician for help, then I believe a newer 5-point harness system is a significant advantage over a seatbelt, especially for those younger kids like 2-4 year olds. And there's still the issue of why their numbers don't reconcile with studies that were submitted to highly respected journals in the medical field. It seems we may never know why they differ so much or who was "right". For those kids 4-8, you can get a good backless booster for $20 or less at Toys R Us, Walmart or Target. If Freakonomics is right, you're out $20. If Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia researchers and others are right, you'll never have to see what "seatbelt syndrome" can do to a child.

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