We've ridden a train a few times for fun and there are no seatbelts or setups for carseats. The distance was short and the chances of an accident extremely slim so I didn't really think twice about it. But I was thinking about taking a longer trip on the train and it got me wondering about carseats and train safety.
We use a carseat on the plane. I do it because the turbulence can be jolting and because using the carseat makes my son stay in his seat and feel more comfortable. Also because I don't trust the baggage carriers to treat it properly and I do not want a damaged carseat. But what about a train?
Anyone have experience using carseats on trains? Any links to expert opinions? Thoughts about carseats on trains?
Statistically, you're safer in a train than in a car, even if your child isn't restrained. Safer than being restrained in a car.
Trains are large and have their own tracks so there's little interaction with other vehicles. If there is, the train is more likely to "win" and absorb any impact.
A train never reaches the speeds that an aircraft does on the runway. The most important times for a child to be strapped into a car seat on a plane are take-off and landing. Turbulence can happen but is less likely to cause injury and death. The critical times, safety wise, are take-off and landing. The train doesn't have either.
I live in Europe so trains are a part of life. I've also been to 50 countries and taken the train in a lot of those. One of the advantages to taking a train is the fact that it's safe to get up and move around.
Too lazy to look up the stats now (bedtime!) but if you bring a car seat on board, there are probably not even seat belts to install it. Just stow it with the luggage, making sure no one chucks anything on top of it.
I don't think I would use a carseat on a train for safety... convenience, maybe, but if something were to happen with a train, I don't think it would be sudden... you'd have time to grab your baby and the injuries wouldn't be as bad... and if there is an emergency, it might just slow you down to unbuckle the baby from the carseat, so the risks might actually outweigh the benefits.
On a plane, the risk is more turbulence related and the reason everyone on the plane is required to wear seat belts and secure their baggage even in the air is so they don't become projectiles... You're technically not even allowed to ever allow your child on the floor of an airplane even for a second. Statistically, there is a huge risk of the plane suddenly dropping and if your child is close to the floor or the overhead compartments (ie. standing on their seat), they could hit their head against the floor or ceiling really hard. Adults have more head control and can brace themselves but small children are like rolling a loose bowling ball down the aisle.
I take trains a couple of times a year (Amtrak, light rail, metros) and I don't know that I have ever seen one with seat belts.
I dont know what commuter trains are like, but i once went on a long Amtrak trip (from Chicago to NM) with my oldest son and found it to be a VERY bumpy ride. Walking from our seat forward toward the lounge/snack car area was not easy...once i was practically thrown into a guys lap who was sitting in an aisle seat. I found you really have to hold on and kind of bounce along with the speeding train to not fall/bump into other people. I cant imagine NOT being able to strap a toddler down into their seat, so its unfortunate if they dont have seatbelts. Luckily i didnt have younger ones when we were travelling.
I have traveled with small children on trains half a dozen times or so. Twice for longer (overnight) trips.
One thing that has worked for us is to get a set of seats that face each other with a space on the floor in between. I put my daughter's car seat on the floor and had her ride like that for a while. I was hoping she'd fall asleep, but she didn't. :( At least she held still for a while.
I generally stow the car seat in the self-stow baggage area on the train, so I have access to it if I need it, and I'm not entrusting it to baggage handlers.
Trains are crazy safe. Bumps and all. It would be nice if they'd supply belts or LATCH anchors or something so that children could be forced to just sit still once in a while, though.
At this point, with my daughter the age and temperament that she is, if I were taking her any significant distance on the train (further than, say, Grandma's house which is about 2.5 hours by train) I would absolutely get some kind of a bedroom so I could at least shut the door and she would have a confined area in which to bounce off the walls.
~*~ Full time mom ~*~ Hobby Sheep Farmer ~*~ Child Passenger Safety Technician ~*~
We rode on a lot of trains in Japan, from the commuter trains to the older trains that are like our amtrak trains here to the high speed shinkansen. I did not feel unsafe in any of them without car seats (in fact we did not bring seats to Japan at all, just used public transit). The shinkansens were the least "bumpy" of the trains. Trains are designed totally differently the motor vehicles, which is why they do not have belts at all. Train accidents are also super, super rare. I would not worry about it at all.
Momma-ing the Muffin since October 2011!