Still Hating Car Seat Laws?
Shortly after my post expressing arguments against car seat laws four of my grandchildren were in a potentially serious car accident. They were taken to two different hospitals, and one of my granddaughters had to have surgery for a head injury.
So, one may wonder, has my view of car seat laws changed? The answer is, absolutely not! I still hate car seat laws.
First, let me make one thing clear, I am not opposed to the use of car seats. Car seats have made automobile travel much safer for young children, and every young child should travel strapped into one. What I am opposed to are car seat laws. The mothers of my grandchildren are all extremely vigilant about car seat use. But, they are not vigilant because of the law; they are vigilant because they want their children to be safe. Laws do not engender vigilance. Laws encourage compliance, but for car seats to be used with the maximum amount of safety and effectiveness one must be vigilant about their use, not just compliant. Vigilant parents are informed parents. A good educational campaign is much more likely to inform parents about the necessity of proper car seat laws than increasingly restrictive laws.
Second, car seats make automobile travel safer, but do not guarantee a lack of injuries. My grandchildren who were in the accident were all properly belted into their car seats. The two younger children were in full car seats, and the older children were in booster seats. My injured granddaughter was hit by a flying object, it appears it was a cover from the front passenger seat air bag (she was in the back), and incurred a large cut on her head and a concussion. We live in a world where more and more people want a guarantee of safety, and law makers want to protect us from ourselves. Guess what, even when you do the right thing bad things happen.
Third, the accident brought me face to face with one of the original problems that car seat laws pose, no contingencies for justifiable exceptions. After the accident my 4 grandchildren were taken to two different hospitals, and their car, with car seats still strapped in, was taken to a towing yard. My granddaughter who needed surgery and her mother were taken to one hospital, and the other three to another. I went to meet these three children, and fortunately, a friend was able to travel from the scene of the accident and stay with those children until I got there. Within a short period of time of when I arrived they determined these children were fine, despite the seatbelt bruise that the 4-year-old had sustained. One thing kept going through my mind as I was driving to the hospital and as I waited for discharge papers, “How am I going to get these children home?” They had arrived at the hospital via ambulance, and now their car seats were towed off to who knows where.
I was fortunate that the friend that was with the children was able to get her husband to come and bring car seats for the kids, but the question kept going through my mind of what would people do who did not have such friends? Would they have to run to the store and buy new car seats? Would the hospital keep the kids until seats could be found, what if I could not afford such a purchase? True, transporting them home strapped into a regular belt would not have been as safe as a car or booster seat, but there are times when we have to do the best with what we have. And so, this experience made me hate car seat laws all the more.