Why Aren't 20 Percent of Parents Buckling Kids in Car Seats?
It sounds simple enough. Buckle the baby into his car seat before you go, but it turns out that for short trips many of us aren’t. And I know why. Because it’s a pain.
You’ve got two squishy little arms that don’t want to go through the straps, maybe it’s hot and if your kids are anything like the three I strap into our Mazda everyday, not one of them has ever WANTED to get into that seat. Our one-year-old assumes his stiff-as-a-board pose every time. It’s you against him with his Incredible Hulk-like strength, suddenly boosted by the outrage of being strapped in. You have to push down on his tummy and bribe him with the pacifier that we keep right in the car seat for just such an occasion. Every single time.
This is Child Passenger Safety week, so it’s a timely article that USA Today issued, citing some pretty scary stats. “One-fifth of parents say it’s OK to skip child seat belts on short trips, survey finds. That could lead to tragic consequences: Over 60 percent of child-involved auto crashes come within 10 minutes of home.”
We lived in Italy when all three of our kids were born and every day we’d see kids in cars obviously not strapped in, little rascals peeking their heads out windows, hopping from the back seats to the front as their parents zoomed through ancient cobblestone streets, dodging scooters and buses on what seemed like a wing and a prayer. My husband and I aren’t in the running for Parents of the Year ourselves, but even we were taken aback.
That’s why I was so surprised to read this piece about the very same thing happening here, minus the scooters and cobblestones. And the details are even more interesting, as details usually are. Sounds like Soccer Moms are the biggest sticklers for safety, but those with the most resources seem to be serious rule benders:
“More affluent parents, more educated parents, fathers and younger parents were more likely to say it was OK to ride unrestrained. For example, 34% of parents with an annual household income of $100,000 or more said it was sometimes acceptable to do that compared with just 15 percent of parents making less than $35,000. Parents with graduate degrees were twice as likely as parents with a high school education—20 percent to 10 percent—to do it.”
The bottom line is, this isn’t the 70s when seat belts were introduced and everyone thought it was just too inconvenient to wear them. (We were also just figuring out that it’s probably best to skip “one for the road” at that time too.) It’s a bit of a chore to buckle the kids in, but so is everything else that involves something they don’t want to do. In this case, it’s a proven life-saving measure, which is worth a scuffle if it comes to that—and in my car, it usually does—but I’d rather have an angry baby who’s alive than the alternative.
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