I have thought and thought about this thread, about the turn this discussion has taken... There are two separate issues, one, the idea that car/booster seats do not provide a level of safety that is any better than a seat belt after age 2, and that it is reasonable to occasionally unbuckle your child in a moving vehicle.
no5-- you have been given many, many links to statistics that prove our point, that car seats and boosters ARE safer than a seat belt alone. If you truly continue to doubt this, I would strongly encourage you to contact a crash test facility near you. Granted, I live in Michigan, where cars (use) to run our economy. I live within 35 miles of two major crash test facilities. Call your local Safe Kids group, see if they or someone, could get you into see a crash test and talk to a bio-med engineer. I can promise you, that 15 minutes of conversation with a bio-med, working in a crash test facility, would explain to you what we are clearly failing to explain. YOU might be interested in this debate, and able to sustain this as a theoretical debate while still restraining your child within the purvue of the law. HOWEVER, what frightens me is how many lurkers are thinking, "Oh, well then, I KNEW those boosters were crap, now I'm not going to bother." We have fought for years to get boosters legislated, and now they are in 45 states, and people like Levitt undermine the message, in a way that is not theoretical. It's dangerous, and it costs children their lives.
Secondly, this idea that unbuckling, for a while, is OK because it does not constitute "immediate and certain death" angers me incredibly. It IS this attitude that is responsible for the roughly 50% of children that die unrestrained in crashes every year. How many of those parents thought, just this once it would be OK? Just this ride it would be fine? Nothing is likely to happen withing the neighborhood, on the way to the store, etc. You do not have the luxury of knowing that this time it will be OK. This could be the time it's not. It appears you are prepared to take that risk, for your child's sake, I hope that you are that fortunate. Many, many others, are not.
And to both of you, 16 years ago this July my sister nearly died in a crash on a beautiful sunny day, on a short drive to our Grandma's house. A drive my mom had done a thousand times, rarely saw traffic, and certainly never saw a crash. Rural, but paved, roads. She was 7, and not in a booster. My mom swerved to avoid a car in her lane as she crested a blind hill and hit a tree. My sister had a cerebral hematoma, a skull fracture, and emergency brain surgery. Had she been in the back seat, in a booster, she most likely would have walked away. But she nearly died. And if you think my mom doesn't question that decision, to let her be in the front, in a belt only, on a regular basis, you are wrong. Her choice nearly cost my sister her life. My sister lives her life wondering how her traumatic brain injury has effect her memory, her school performance, her LIFE. My mom is having yet another surgery this fall, a hip replacement at 54, 16 years later, because of damage related to her injuries (over 40 broken bones).
This is NOT a theoretical debate. If your life hasn't been touched by the serious injury or death of a child in a car crash, or by a crash that could have been fatal, you are very, very lucky. If your life has been touched, then you realize that this is life or death. For real. It's not about economics, or being 10 minutes late because you had to stop to nurse the baby. It's not about scare tactics or a false fear, it is reality. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for everyone ages 1 to 44 in the US. Depending on the year, 3 to 6 children die EVERY DAY in cars, and typically, around half of those are totally unrestrained.
This isn't about choosing organic vs. traditional, or co-sleeping vs. crib, breast vs. bottle. There is real, honest data, born out tragically year after year, that this is THE major life and death issue facing our children, every single day. I just wish parents and caregivers could realize this BEFORE it is their tragedy.