Wednesday, March 22, 2006

To Boost Or Not To Boost

I understand the need for proper child restraints as well as any parent, but...


For those who don't quite understand what I'm getting at here, try to remember where you were at twelve. Chances are, you were beginning junior high school. Now that we're on the same page, how many junior high school students do you honestly think need to be in a booster seat?

While I'm at it, let me touch on one other thing. Go to your local Wal-Mart and check out the pricing on child seats. Imagine replacing it over a twelve-year period. It ain't cheap, and I heavily suspect that there's a lobbyist for Graco or Fisher Price who is hiding behind a door in Montgomery.

The truth is that other states have similar laws, but upon my last review, the toughest requirement for any state was age nine. That's still pushing it as far as I'm concerned, but nine years is better than twelve in my opinion.

From what I can remember, I was out of a child seat by the time I started the first grade. (That would be about age six.) While I think that a lot of kids might not quite be ready for adult-size seatbelts, there are alternatives to a booster seat, like seat belt adjusting straps or child-size seat belts, that are just as effective and can be installed and inspected for free by your local fire department.

Yes, it would probably save a few lives, but why not call for "appropriate child restraints" as opposed to specifically calling for booster seats? At the same time, you can't save every child from every possible danger. There has to be a reasonable line drawn somewhere that lets the parents decide on which measures are appropriate and which are just overdoing it. Otherwise, what are we (the parents) here for?

Rep. Thad McClammy of Montgomery decided to make the case for the bill:

McClammy recounted a recent Montgomery tragedy where a young mother backed over her child, who had gotten out of his car seat and out of the car. "Her message was, `I don't care if you are only going one foot, put the baby back in the car seat,'" McClammy said.

Here's my argument. The representative's example showed a child that lacked supervision, not a child seat. If a two-year-old child can figure out how to open "child-proof" caps and cabinet latches that adults have a hard time getting into, then such a child can figure out how to maneuver out of a child seat. The exception would be if the parent had a padlock on it, and even then, I wouldn't be surprised if the child had a pick for the lock. I've worked with toddlers before, and they'll surprise you.

It almost reminds me of the review that I recently read on about a highchair that I wanted to buy. The mother gave the chair a one-star rating because she felt that the easy removal of the tray made the chair unsafe. Her reasoning? Her child removed the tray (as they tend to do), spilled the contents on the floor (as they tend to do), and then slid right out of the chair onto the floor. She then went on to say that she hadn't used the harness, "but who uses those 100% of the time, anyway?" She also mentioned that she wasn't watching the child, who wasn't even two. Yep. That was the chair's fault. Thankfully, her daughter wasn't hurt.

I like the comment from Rep. Jack Williams of Vestavia Hills, who opposes the bill:

But Williams vows to amend the bill, if necessary, to also require children to wear fire-retardant suits and crash helmets.

Sarcasm is a gift seldom given to politicians. I like this guy.

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