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#1 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, theoretically, which is safer: a 4 year old in a booster seat with a lap-only belt, or the same child with just the lap belt and no booster? Or are both options so unsafe that you'd run out & spend $200+ on a car seat with a higher weight limit just for a few hours of driving around? Does it make a difference that it's in a bus and not a tiny little sports car?

We are currently a one-car family, so a friend offered to pick us up & drive us around a few times in her awesome, old VW bus. We also drive an older car, with lap-only belts in back, but we've currently got the booster in the front seat with lap & shoulder belts (which I believe is acceptable since there are no airbags). If we decide that the lap belt isn't safe enough, we are likely to just stay home, since we really can't afford a new car seat.

Please be gentle. I'm obviously very concerned about DD's safety.
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#2 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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I wouldn't do it, but if you do, don't use a booster.

ETA: It is dangerous enough that I would buy a 5-pt harness, because you could then use it in your own car, in the backseat. It's not safe for you to ride in the backseat with just a lapbelt, either, so it would be ideal for her to be in the back in a 5-pt harness and you up front in the lap/shoulder belt.

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#3 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 09:35 PM
 
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I don't write this lightly, because I understand what $200 can mean to some families, but I would not transport a child in a lap-belt only under anything short of a life-and-death emergency.

What is your child's height and weight? We may be able to come up with something under $200 for her.

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#4 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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I would not do that either.
It may be worth checking the fire department, sometimes they have free carseat programs. Or Craigslist.
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#5 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She's only just now 40 lbs. We literally just switched to a booster two days ago. I'm not sure of her exact height, but it's commensurate to her weight.

We won't be driving on the highway, or going more than 30 mph, or 35 at the most. Maybe that doesn't make any difference.

I am comfortable with my own level of safety, in front or in back. I know lap belts aren't ideal, for anyone, but nothing about our car is ideal. (No airbags, no headrests, etc.) We just drive as safely as possible (and not very much--probably an hour to an hour and a half each week). And we will probably not use the car more than once a month, if that, after we move to an area with better public transportation (two months from now). It does seem a bit ironic that we'll both be riding with no belts at all then.
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#6 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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You could get her an Evenflo Maestro -- it's about $75 at Sears. It has a 50# harness limit and good high shoulder straps. You and she will be considerably safer, and while $75 is a lot of money, it's not $200.

Busses are much safer than passenger cars, even without seatbelts.

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#7 of 33 Old 04-26-2010, 11:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Busses are much safer than passenger cars, even without seatbelts.
Oh, I know. I just wish a VW bus was a bus.

I will talk to DH about the Maestro. Thank you for suggesting it. I would feel more comfortable with DD in the back seat, if for no reason other than that it'll keep her from kicking the gearstick. She'll throw a fit though--she's so loving wearing a big-kid seatbelt. Ah well.
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#8 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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I know it's not what you want to hear, but I wouldn't do either....

Good luck working it out. You sound like a caring mom.

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#9 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post
She's only just now 40 lbs. We literally just switched to a booster two days ago. I'm not sure of her exact height, but it's commensurate to her weight.
If you just switch to a booster 2 days ago, where's the other seat? Use that seat, or if it was a seat that converts to a booster, convert it back to a harnessed seat

I guess unless it had a 40lb limit
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#10 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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I would check with your local Safe Kids program or health department car seat program. Evenflo has now made the Maestro's available for purchase by those sort of programs, we are providing them as our combination forward facing harness/booster seat. So if you came to my program, you could get one for $20. You also can apply with the Kyle David ****** Foundation for a high weight harnessing seat, they provide them for a $20 co-pay- Britax Regents and Sunshine Kids Radian's. I understand that finances are tight, and I don't say it lightly either, but I would not transport my child in a lap only belt. In Michigan, it would actually be illegal, as we have no provision in our booster law for what to do in these situations. Best of luck Mama!

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#11 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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Another option would be a vest like the Ride Safer Travel Vest. You'll need a heavy-duty anchor installed, so it wouldn't be practical to switch between vehicles.

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#12 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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The ride safer vest needs a top tether to be used with a lap belt only, BUT since the anchor stays in the car, the vest itself is easy to move to another car. I'm not sure how you'd get a top tether in an old VW van, though.

If you can get the top tether in, consider the vest. Otherwise, I'm not sure what to say - FF seats with a harness for big kids are MUCH safer with a top tether. I don't think the front seat situation is a good solution, either - in WA, it is illegal for a kids under 12 to ride in the front if they can sit in the back, it is so much safer in the back.

I think you should maybe post this over at carseat.org to get some more info....
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#13 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure she'd get the same advice at car-seat.org.

I agree that it is safest to tether FFing seats. However, the Maestro doesn't *require* a tether: it passes without one. And FFing harnessed but untethered, while not ideal, is far FAR safer than being in the front seat or being in a lap belt only. If the OP wants to investigate having a tether anchor retrofitted in her own vehicle, I'd be happy to look up the information.

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#14 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bigteamug View Post
in WA, it is illegal for a kids under 12 to ride in the front if they can sit in the back, it is so much safer in the back.

I think you should maybe post this over at carseat.org to get some more info....
She'll get the same info on c-s.org, since several of those of us who posted on here are also techs that frequent both sites

And, WA has an exemption for cars with lap-only belts in the backseat.

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#15 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, a lot of new advice.

Our car, and I presume the VW bus, both seem to be too old for tether anchors. Our car is a '76, and the bus is older.

The front seat is definitely legal here, for any age. She actually rode rear-facing in the front seat a few times as an infant (back when we had no back seat at all). Even just a lap belt is legal here, now she's 4.

The car seat she was in had a harness weight limit of 40 lbs (which is why we converted it into a booster a few days ago). It seemed like a reasonably high weight limit way back when we bought it (when she was a baby). I wish I knew then what I know now.

I do wish we'd qualify for a cheap/free seat, but we are unfortunately only low income due to the fact that we are repaying our HUGE debts. If we could stop paying, we'd be rich (relatively). So on paper, we definitely don't look low-income, though we sure feel (and shop) like we are.
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#16 of 33 Old 04-27-2010, 07:41 PM
 
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Right, tether anchor holes were pre-drilled starting in 1989. But, heavy duty anchors aren't like regular TA's and don't require pre-drilled holes.

At the very least, I'd upgrade her to a dedicated booster in the front seat (I'm assuming you have a 3-in-1 type seat, since you mentioned removing the harness at 40 pounds, and those don't make good boosters).

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#17 of 33 Old 04-28-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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We got a Maestro for $62-- google for some coupon codes at Sears. It harnesses to 50lbs and is a piece of cake to install with a lapbelt. LOVE it.
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#18 of 33 Old 04-28-2010, 08:09 PM
 
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Neither option is safe, especially for a 4yr old. (an adult at least can withstand crashes better).

You need a 5pt harness for sure, or a travel vest
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#19 of 33 Old 04-28-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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i may have misunderstood your OP, but i was of the mind that a belt positioning booster could NEVER be used with just a 2pt lap belt. ??? so that would limit your choice to either front seat with BPB and 3pt belt or back seat with no BPB, right? what a tough spot, sorry mama.

Bring back the old MDC
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#20 of 33 Old 04-30-2010, 05:53 AM
 
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Neither option is any good IMHO.

- Using a regular sea belt in front seat WITHOUT airbag offer, or deactivated with key/swich, the same safety as rear seat. This has been shown years ago.

- 95% of all injuries in cars occur in speeds at 31 mph or less. Most people don't undertand just how huge the impact forces are even at low speeds. Most parents believe it's most dangerous to drive fast on the highway but this is not where most accidents occur. Tehy occur relatively close o the home and at lower speeds

- Lap belt is better than no belt at all but it's a really huge difference in safety compared to a booster/harnessed seat. Only you can decide if that's ok.

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#21 of 33 Old 04-30-2010, 10:53 PM
 
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Neither option is any good IMHO.

- Using a regular sea belt in front seat WITHOUT airbag offer, or deactivated with key/swich, the same safety as rear seat. This has been shown years ago.

.
NOT for a FF child.

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#22 of 33 Old 04-30-2010, 11:32 PM
 
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My 5 year old cousin became a quadriplegic in Decemeber when she was in an accident and was only restrained by a lap belt. Her accident was approx. 4 miles from her home and going at city speed limits.

There is no situation where I'd ever put my child in a lap only belt, especially this young. I'm sorry, but I had to share our story because it can be a very serious danger.

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#23 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 02:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 5 year old cousin became a quadriplegic in Decemeber when she was in an accident and was only restrained by a lap belt. Her accident was approx. 4 miles from her home and going at city speed limits.

There is no situation where I'd ever put my child in a lap only belt, especially this young. I'm sorry, but I had to share our story because it can be a very serious danger.
As sad as it is, I am very aware that kids die and are injured in all sorts of ways, in all sorts of situations, including when they are in properly installed car seats. Anecdotes like this one frighten and horrify me, but I can't let them dictate how I act. If I did, I'd have to follow my child around, never letting her out of my sight, never letting her climb trees or swing on swings or play in the ocean, for fear that something might go wrong. I can't live my life that way, and DD doesn't deserve to live her life that way.
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#24 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 02:45 AM
 
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Right, well the point is, lap belts are not safe for anyone, and it greatly increases your risk of injury. Letting her climb trees or swim is not even remotely similar in terms of risk.

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#25 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 09:31 AM
 
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We won't be driving on the highway, or going more than 30 mph, or 35 at the most. Maybe that doesn't make any difference
That doesn't make any difference at all. I know it's just another story but when I was a teen a friend of mine and her older sister were driving to school (older sister was driving). They lived in the country and made it *just* down the road from their house (could literally still see their house). There was an accident and my friend died It doesn't matter how far from home you are or how fast you are going. Accidents can be deadly at any speed, at any time.

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#26 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Right, well the point is, lap belts are not safe for anyone, and it greatly increases your risk of injury. Letting her climb trees or swim is not even remotely similar in terms of risk.
In our state, drowning is the number one cause of death in preschool-aged children.

But my point isn't what is safe or not safe. I am naturally a worrier, and I am prone to panic when I hear stories like that. Perhaps for that reason, anecdotes don't do anything to persuade me. I'm not saying that I'm going to put my kid in a lap-only belt. I'm just saying that I'm not going to not do it simply because of what happened to somebody's cousin.
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#27 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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In our state, drowning is the number one cause of death in preschool-aged children.

But my point isn't what is safe or not safe. I am naturally a worrier, and I am prone to panic when I hear stories like that. Perhaps for that reason, anecdotes don't do anything to persuade me. I'm not saying that I'm going to put my kid in a lap-only belt. I'm just saying that I'm not going to not do it simply because of what happened to somebody's cousin.
But, would you let your preschooler take a bath by herself? Go swimming without a lifeguard or a responsible adult with her? Leave her unattended by a lake? That could be comparable to making sure she's properly secured in a car. You could let her ride without a car seat, or just in a lap belt, and she might be fine just like she might not drown in a bath tub unsupervised. But you're still going to try to prevent it by supervising, kwim?

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#28 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 01:35 PM
 
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The reason people feel compelled to share our stories, and I'm another one who has done so many times, is that our lives have been impacted by a tragedy that has a lesson. In most cases, these things could have been prevented. We share the stories when we hope that our tragedy could prevent another from happening. I have a mom right now in my car seat tech class who wants to become a tech so she can help other parents make better choices and not have to have their child go through these sort of injuries.

It's somewhat irrelevant if it's drowning or crashes that are the leading cause of death in your state. Nation wide, car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury. For every 6 deaths there are 300 injured severely enough to be hospitalized. As Adventuredad said, most of those crashes happen at low speeds, close to home. I'm sure that car crashes are the leading cause of severe injury in your state. Improper use of car seats and belts are a real risk. When parents choose to dismiss this fact, they are exposing their child to greater risk.

Obviously, as a parent, that is your choice to make, but I think the posters are just trying to explain that low-speeds, state statistics, etc. do not change the risk you would be exposing your child to. I'm sorry you have to make these tough choices! It's a hard thing to decide when parents are stuck with these options. FWIW- we will sell our seats at our cost to parents that don't qualify as low-income. For a Maestro, that would bring it down a fair amount off of retail. It's our goal for all children to have access to safer seats, regardless of their parents economic situation. Best of luck!

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#29 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I mentioned that drowning is the leading cause of death in my state for preschoolers in response to Aurora's statement that swimming is not remotely as risky as riding in a car in a lap belt, not to try to suggest that it is appropriate to totally disregard automobile safety.

I have all the sympathy in the world for those who have had loved ones killed or injured in car crashes. But it makes me angry when people try to use tragic stories and fear to convince me of the right way to act. Overselling something can backfire, and this is probably just one of those things for me. I grew up with people constantly telling me not to do something because of tragic stories and fear, and often the things they told me not to do were ridiculous (never put a pen in your shirt pocket, never take a bath while you have your period, never wear your hair in a braid, etc.). I just don't accept anecdotes as a valid form of argument anymore.
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#30 of 33 Old 05-01-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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Yes, drownings are a leading cause of death of toddlers. Riding in a lap belt would roughly be the equivalent of "ok honey, have fun at the pool, see you in a couple hours", not supervised swimming.

Well, anecdotes aside, many people have given you many reason to rethink your car seat situation, so hopefully you will take some of it to heart.

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