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December 29, 2008

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All laws like this are stupid. Especially making adults wear seatbelts this should be a choice not a law. I personally would do it anyway but it should not be forced upon you. Just as mowing your grass a certain height in the city should not be law. Its your grass you own it. All this was instituted to make money the government doesnt give a crap about you or your kids all they care about is making money. The government, the counties, the states they all want money and that is all it is about. If its a free country it should be free. I realize it could be dangerous but parents should have a right to raise their children as they see fit. Think about how stupid this law is set up. If you have an older car with no airbags you still have to put the kids in the back but if you have a truck with no back seat then its okay to put them in the front because you have no choice. Now why is that logical at all. I mean if its dangerous to put them in a car in the front then its still dangerous in the front of a truck but since you have no choice we will give you a pass. If the government really cared would this actually be the way the law was. Now how about adult seatbelts. You get a ticket if you dont wear it right. Wrong only if you are in a car or truck. If you are on a motorcycle of course there are no seatbelts so you dont need one, even though if you are in a major accident you are more likely to die, and if your car is old and doesnt have seatbelts then you are exempt from the rule. I understand that these are exceptions but come on if its so important for one how can it not be for all. Why should someone in a car be ticketed for no seat belt and then allow motorcycles. Why should someone putting their kid in the front seat of the car be ticketed when someone else can put them in the front seat of the truck legally. I just dont get it as for the ticketing I really feel this is all bs that the government institutes to make money and nothing else. I realize why kids should be strapped in but with all the loopholes for the front seat back seat thing, and all the importance of a seatbelt on an adult but its okay to ride a motorcycle. Thats all just crap if its a free country it should be free. Smokers are persecuted because its dangerous to others, and cigarette companies can barely advertise on tv because they say they target kids and teens, but the beer companies advertise all over the place and almost every commercial shows every one just having a great time picking up hot women, and tons of kids start drinking at a young age, and guess what alot of them get drunk, drive and die. Or maybe grow up alcoholics and lose their job and nobody cares. Nobody puts a stop to the beer commercials like they do smoking. I realize this is all sort of off topic but it just seems that only certain issues get looked at in and others just are kind of there.

I don't know about Atlanta, but in Utah where I live there is a phone number you can call at any time just to report license plate numbers of families who have kids in the car without seatbelts on. It is my ABSOLUTE BIGGEST pet peeve (not including, of course, child abuse) when parents are too lazy or selfish to make sure their children are safe in the car. I have forgotten my child's seatbelt a couple of times when I had groceries to put in the car or something, but they've always been trained well enough (like your kids) to point it out and ask me to put their seatbelts on. EVERY PARENT goes through the seatbelt fight, but YOU ARE THEIR ONLY SOURCE OF SAFETY AT THAT AGE!!! Do it anyway!!

*sigh* Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I HATE THAT!!

I saw a woman take her small infant (probably between 8-10 months old) out of a booster seat that is obviously made for older children (didn't have a 5 point harness). wtf.

I have once driven with my son unbuckled - at 5mph through the lion enclosure in the safari park, and only because he couldn't see the lion. I have once had a situation where my daughter in her baby seat came unbuckled (not from the baby seat, but from the car), and rolled over during a sharp corner turn. I did an emergency stop on the side of the country road - with hazard lights - to put her back in (I think it just hadn't clipped in properly. Scared the crap out of me!). But I am a total nazi about buckles, and I will shout at my son if he so much as attempts to maneuvre his arms out. It's hard in the winter as his coat is bulky and makes it uncomfortable - but - tough.

When I was 9, I broke my nose in the back of my mum's Ford - it was 1983, and seatbelts were not even FITTED in the back of cars, let alone compulsory. My mum did an emergency stop, and I hit the seat in front, fracturing my nose and giving me a pretty bad neck ache for a while. I'd hate to think what would have happened if I had been in the front. My mum tells me about when I was a baby and they'd just wedge the moses basket in the back. Yikes!!! And when I was 3, and we lived in Indonesia, where there were no seatbelts. Not good.

I do have a problem with your US car seats though - we took our son over when he was 14 months, and WOW your infant seats are bad! He could hang his legs over the side and loll around like a ragdoll, there was no way we could tighten the belts any way near the tautness we do over here (on kids over 1 year, the harness on our seats is super-tight until they get in a booster). At one point he fell asleep and nearly fell out of the seat. Jeez. We have a brand, Maxi-Cosi, here in Europe (it's a Dutch company) and I am thankful for their seats every day I drive. They have been proven to be the safest seats on the market.

We have just bought our son a booster seat that should last him til he is 10 - they have pretty strict rules here, which have just been extended to include short 10 year olds (man, I only just qualify for an adult seatbelt - but then I am SHORT!). The longer they are buckled in the better, and the boosters have shown that they reduce internal and neck injuries by putting the belt in the right place on the child.

You go, Etiquette Bitch. I'd be shopping that lady to the cops without a moment's hesitation. And alerting the preschool. Go, girl.

When we owned a daycare I had a parent who routinely picked her children up, put the less than 2 year old in her lap in the front driver's seat and her less than 5 year old in the passengers seat, on her knees.

I gave her all kinds of literature about cars seat safety and the like and she never ever seemed to get it. So, I called the cops. Oh, yes I did, bitch and all but damn, it was freakin' dangerous as hell and I had seen her all over town with the kids in the same positions so I knew it wasn't just something she did whens he left daycare.

Everyday for weeks I would call the cops when she would pull into the drive to pick up her kids and you know what..............THEY NEVER MANAGED TO SEE HER, STOP HER, TICKET HER or anything.....

finally it dawned on me...she lived with a drug dealer....she had to...and the cops were afraid......girlfriend, that is pathetic...yup

The Etiquette Bitch is glad to have a kindred spirit in sanctimony.

But in this case I think it goes beyond etiquette into reckless endangerment. The same happens when I'm given the wrong spoon at dinner and I'm tempted to stab someone with it.

It is against the law over here to wear no seatbelt, yet there are still people who do this. It terrifies me to see a child jumping up and down obviously not in a carseat. That is a form of abuse - neglect.

I can easily understand forgetting once or twice, but habitually? Makes me so angry! My husband had to hold me back from chewing out some neighbors one night, when I realized that they had not only positioned their four-ish year old in the back seat with no booster seat or belt, but they then handed their NEWBORN to her to hold. And then my head exploded.

My family was using seatbelts and homemade booster seats (we did it for comfort, to prevent the seatbelt from chafing, not because my folks actually knew that booster seats would someday be considered a safety issue) before there were legal reasons to do so.

I think every parent has had at least one instance with an accidentally unsecured child, but to intentionally put your child at risk (and intentionally violate state laws) makes no sense to me at all.

I can't tell you how many kids I see without seat belts or car seats!! My neighbor justifies her laziness on strapping her kids in on "being a good driver"!! Now I am not saying I'm a perfect parent, but I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that attitude!

When I was young we would all pile into the back of the pickup for a trip somewhere and that was normal for most who owned pickups back then.
We've come a long way in the last 40 plus years.Here in NY State they are pretty strict about the seatbelt laws now and they do inforce them.
Safety First !

BJC

I think we've all done it once or twice, or left a child in a seat unbuckled on accident. But habitual lack of seatbelts is neglect, in my opinion.

I've seen the results of people in car accidents. I can tell you that those with seat belts fare far better than those without. And a child is far less likely to survive going through a windshield at high speed.

Sure, we all grew up with lax seatbelt rules, but there's a reason we now have laws about it.

Oh I know. It completely bewilders me as to what their justification must be as to not seat belting their child. "Oh, he's a good little boy. He sits perfectly still".
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a Dad driving and a loving mom in the front seat holding a newborn.

Oh and don't get me started about leaving your child in the car when you run in the store. I shall elaborate much to your chagrin.
We pull up to gas station beside suburban ho. Her child looked to be the age of not one. She gets out to pump her gas, pump malfunctions. She looks around and sees two trusting looking men in greasy workclothes in a panel van.
"Could you guys keep an eye on my baby while I go in the store?" "My lock is broken and I can't lock the door".

I couldn't believe it. We sat and kept an eye on the trusty men in the panel van.

Some people kill me. I don't know about where y'all live, but not restraining your kids properly is a felony here if you get pulled over. I'm not sure if it's like our other seatbelt law and they can't pull you over strictly for that, and they'd have to pull you over for something else first, or not.

I'm so glad my oldest one is the safety police and knows that he needs to be 8yo to ditch the booster, and our hospital also had a display set up at open house that recommended the kids be 4'9". He's decided that's the magic number.

Excellent post. Agree with all points made. The contrary comments are interesting though. Thankfully everyone almost agrees with you. Whew. Buckle up the damn kids!

omg! I LOVE etiquette bitch. She is my favorite.

Can she come out to play more often? lol!

great post, btw.

K, I was born in 1968 (yeah, I know!) and I remember my seatbelt being my Mom's arm thrown across my chest if she had to do a quick brake. The result, if necessary,would have been a broken arm for her and a face-full of windshield for me.
When it ccmes to my kids, I remember weighing and measuring to see if they were tall and /or heavy enough to move out of their booster seat. Not having a seatbelt on before the vehicle goes into Park? HELL NO. My older daughter can only sit in the front seat of my Pacifica because the seat is "smart", meaning it turns the airbag off if the passenger is shorter or lighter than the specs. She is 5'4 and 120 lbs. so I let her sit there sometimes.
I would pull my kid out of the window if I looked in and noticed he/she was not wearing a seatbelt, and I would never again let that adult drive my child anywhere ever again.
Yeah, I might be paranoid, like my father before me, but all of our children are still alive.

In our county you report these parents online and the police send them a letter. It's the same form you use for reporting aggressive drivers. Even if it carries no legal weight I like to let them know they're being watched. Hopefully some of them at least are impacted by the police letterhead.

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/services/report-unbuckled-child.htm

Audry: no requirement that anyone be buckled in in the 60's. Seatbelts at all were optional until I don't know when.

My parents had a carseat for my youngest brother, born 1970 when he was a toddler. Safety didn't come into it: it was a metal frame with a bit of black plastic upholstry that sat up at window height. The idea was to allow them to see out and keep them from crawling underfoot. The thing was fairly easily escapable, I think the straps snapped closed--at age 5 I could easily get him in & out and soon enoough he could manage it. After a few years, someone noticed that kids in these seats weren't tossed about as much in accidents. Thus the industry began.

I THINK I also recall early infant seats were baby carriers/rockers that buckled in for convenience. My aunts & uncles had these for my cousins. There may have been a safety factor by then, 1977 or so.

We're stationed in S. Korea and they actually sell little "kits" here to convert the back seat into a "play area". None of the kids or babies have carseats or are buckled in....and with the amount of traffic here, it's nuts.

My brother, a former volunteer firefighter, went on a call several years ago that was a car accident. The 4 kids were in the front seat of the truck unbuckled.

3 of the 4 kids were on the floor under the dashboard. Pretty wedged in.

After he pulled the bloody, battered, DEAD toddler out from under the dashboard, and then had to go to counseling to help him deal with it, I think I'll err on the side of "Buckled and booster'd."

Sarah, it's one thing to forget to buckle your kid in and he's still sitting in the seat. It's another when you've got kids jumping through the center console or flailing about outside a half open window.

I have had a kid unbuckled here or there because they are willful or I am a dipshit. Systematically not buckling your kid is neglectful... but, as you pointed out - not abusive.

I will take the opportunity to point out that the car seat industry has a mighty mighty lobby.

In my state, kids are mandated to be in carseats or boosters until at least age 8 (higher in many other states). They must be safe right? Check out the talk on carseats (www.ted.com search for carseat).

The data suggest that boosters are equally or less safe than just letting the kid buckle in a plain seat, and won't it be nice if we don't have to jockey car seats and boosters everywhere anymore?

Hey Sarah, she didn't say they weren't buckled in the car seat, she said they were leaving unbuckled. Most kids have unbuckled themselves and it's completely unsafe. You pull over or you make them re-buckle. Most of us might have unbuckled them for one reason or another on a highway. We know it's unsafe, but it is sometimes necessary. But what Kristen said was that they drove away from the school with their kid unbuckled. Now that? Is shitty parenting.

You admit, you have done this before. When you're traveling down the highway and see someone with a child loose in the car, how do you know that this has ever happened to them before? When my son was a toddler he was an expert at freeing himself. I pulled over as soon as it was safe, and strapped him back in. Many times we did this more than once in a single trip. Sometimes, I just couldn't pull over. Rather than distracting myself from driving, I would ignore him until we were able to pull over (trying not to give in to the attention seeking behavior). Don't assume these people are idiots or bad parents. Assume they are have a particularly trying car trip and don't distract them or yourself from driving safely in your hurry to judge.

Once or twice we've had an emergency nursing situation in a parking lot and moved up to a better spot when we're through. I wasn't driving but I was holding the baby in my lap from spot to spot. I think it -may- be excusable if you're driving around 5 mph for a minute or so.

I think I may have forgotten to do it once or twice when my son was very young. Like, he was in his carseat but not fully strapped in. I can't remember why I didn't think to check or how that happened but it did and I thank God nothing happened. Now though he's 2yrs old and I make darn certain he's strapped in before anyone who's driving takes off. My husband is the same way. Sometimes my son fights it but I'd rather have a few minutes of tears and attitude from him than what the alternative could be should we get in an accident and something bad happens all b/c I didn't want to deal w/his tears.

My husband (a firefighter) has responded to calls where injuries and worse were a direct result of kids not being strapped in. Sure, it's a hassle, sure lots of kids hate it, but this isn't a hassle like fighting with a toddler over wearing matching clothes. This is a life-saving hassle.

I'd bring it to the attention of the pre-school. She might listen to them. They could also print out a flyer for all parents detailing the laws in your state.

This makes me sick to my stomach. Seriously, how hard is it to buckle your kid in? Everyone has pretty much covered the safetly issue. So that aside, the last thing I want is my kids crawling all over each other or me when I'm driving. Think of the sibling fights that could occur. I love that they are safely, and SEPARATELY, buckled in their carseats. It's the only time of day that I can guarantee they're not hitting or poking each other.

This drives me crazy as well. I simply cannot imagine not putting my kids in a carseat. I also refuse to take my seats out of the car (to put in someone else's car) because I know they've been inspected and are installed correctly.

One of my dad's classmates lost her child while driving with my on her lap. Upon impact her baby was crushed between her body and the steering wheel. I absolutely cannot imagine what that must have done to the poor mom's conscience. This was in the '60s so I'm not sure what (if any) laws there were then. Did you end up saying anything to the parent?

I've done this once. It was because my husband had left for work and forgot to put the booster back in my car. I drove to his workplace immediately to get it, and then invested in a second booster so that it never happens again. The entire time Dawson was buckled in the back seat sans booster I was driving slower than normal because I was freaking out.

I can imagine anyone doing this on purpose, though. That scares me.

I think I've forgotten once with each of my kids...and pulled over on the highway to buckle him in. Neglecting to buckle them up on purpose is simply not something I ever considered.

My kids are older (4 and 6...and 19), and sometimes they think it is fun to unbuckle and change seats. I stop the car and refuse to move until they are buckled up.

But that's just me.

Wow! I am with you.

Having been in an accident this past fall that totaled our minivan (and that was not my fault), had I not had my two little ones strapped into their car seats, and myself with my seatbelt on, we would have not walked away with only seat belt bruises to show for the accident. It would (not could) have been much much worse.

We always buckle up, everyone in the car, and it's just part of the routine. Neither kid has ever given me a hard time about it.


My heart goes out to the mom. I hope someone steps up to voice their concern. She probably has no clue. I would just double check with her.

When Jake was in grade 1/2 he was really small-too big for a car seat, but too small for the regular seat belt. I kept him in a booster seat.

You wouldn't believe the amount of flack I got not just from co-workers, but other parents AND his teachers. I refused to let him go in another parent's car without the booster for a field trip and took the issue all the way to the superintendent. Their response? "Well, he doesn't have to attend." (I couldn't drive-I had to work)

Less then 2 years later boosters became mandatory and the district had to buy an entire class set.

I still won't forget the attitude of a co-worker though who laughed at me and told me that she thought I was stupid, because "all the kids are going to make fun of him." My response was, "You haven't sat at the bedside of a dying child in an ICU. I don't CARE if kids laugh. I want my kid ALIVE."

Just for info, you can get free car seats at the Hwy Patrol. I have been in a mommy group on tour and witnessed several of the parents take home really nice seats.

Next if everyone would just buckle every time there would be no fights because it was just part of the routine of going on a car ride.

Granted things might be different in suburbia vs city, taxis etc. But seriously it doesn't take too much of a brain to know better.

We have been on long car trips and I didn't want to stop to nurse so I hovered over the car seat so my little ones could nurse and not be unbuckled. Fun.

I once realized that I had driven all the way to my mother's house (a whole 15 minutes) without buckling my 1 1/2 year old into her car seat. I felt so sick I thought I was going to throw up or my heart would burst out of my chest.

I can't imagine doing that on a regular basis - purposely!

And yes. It IS the one time that I can totally, legally force her into one darn spot, even if she does scream. I'll take it!

Ha, I recently had a conversation about this with my dad - apparently, when they took me home from the hospital, he put four-inch foam in the back of the station wagon rather than have a carseat. I am surprised I survived until adulthood.

Yes, I blogged it.

At any rate, this is a case of stupid is as stupid does.

Or she may just not know (I work in the public service - you'd be surprised at the things people just don't know that most of us take for granted).

When I see this it makes me want to puke. I used to see people do this all the time at our pre-school and I pleaded with the director to either talk to parents directly or at the very least send out a memo... I got no response which was even more maddening.

I can't imagine driving with them unbuckled as a conscious decision.

When the twins were infants, I drove a hour to my mother's house with them in their seats but not strapped in. I thought she had strapped them in, she thought I did and neither of us realized it until we went to unbuckle them when we arrived. I felt SICK to think about what could have happened. Just can't comprehend why you would do that on purpose.

I know what you mean! I am so troubled when I see a kid running loose in a back seat. I often wonder if it's a cultural thing. When Rocco went to preschool in the city, it was a very multi-cultural place. And I noticed a lot of the families who were from other countries, whose kids were likely first generation American-born, didn't strap their kids in. Even young kids, like 2 and 3. Maybe it's a financial thing. Buy a carseat or feed my family? I can totally see that because car seats are friggin expensive! But I just think about how awful that parent would feel if anything were to happen to their child because they didn't buckle them in and it makes me sad.

Oh, and i have a seat belt alert system, as well. Rocco, the four year old, is quick to point out if I forget to buckle him in. Unfortunately, he usually waits until I've taken off, so I have to pull over to the side of the road and go around to his side of the van, so everyone driving past sees that I'm a horrible mom who doesn't buckle their kid in. Nice!

My kids have ridden unbuckled and unseatbelted in taxis, busses, and limos (that's how we roll), it's legal when you're in the back and the driver is a professional, and sometimes we've had no choice. It looks like Nicole is riding in a limo, which is different from driving with the baby in your lap (which is what Brit did).

On the other hand, just a generation ago my mother reportedly nursed me while she was driving (not riding) her car.

On the third hand, I have been known to follow the cars of those with unrestrained children. Hubby was driving and I was in the passenger seat, on the phone with no less than 3 local police departments trying to get someone to do something (the worst was when we drove right past the State Police Post, and the 2 or 3 year old was hanging out of the window to her waist, and I was screaming into the phone, "I'm driving by right NOW, send someone to do SOMETHING before this kid falls out of the car..." and no one did anything). When no one arrived to pull the mom over, we followed her home and I chewed her out.

In your shoes, I would print out a bunch of articles about kids who've been unrestrained in cars and died (the one that leaps to my mind was the girl in Gary, IN who was ejected from the car over a bridge and fell into a river and drowned), put them in an envelope with a note that says, "I really care about you and your child. Please take the 30 seconds to buckle him up. It really is a matter of life and death," and stick it in the other kid's cubby anonymously.

If that didn't change the behavior, I'd call CPS. Seriously.

Not restraining a child in the car IS child abuse, unless they happen to pick up from school every day in a limo.

Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

(can't wait to see what kind of t-shirt you make out of all this)

This is crazy. There was a time we were out of town for a funeral and often at the whim of relatives for rides. One night we were stuck somewhere out with the baby and I finally took a ride home when I realized the person with the carseat wasn't coming back, holding him on my lap. It was fine, but I cannot imagine doing that just because I don't want to fight with my child!

What parent would forgive themselves if something happened to their unbelted children.

And while we're on the topic, improperly installed carseats irritate me almost as much.

No Excuses!

Absolutely. Do they not have time to prevent their child's death? The laws are there for a reason. I mean, we all know how long it takes our gov't to enact any legislation... there must be a good reason ALL states have carseat laws. My child is the biggest carseat fighter but there is NO way, I'm not buckling him in.

I don't think this is you being an "Etiquette Bitch". I think it's just being a "Smart Bitch".

Yeah - that one is just plain dumb. And who cares if it's too much of a hassle. I remember once when I had to forcibly hold down a screaming toddler in the hot sun, after struggling with her for an hour before I finally got her strapped in. But I wasn't moving until she was buckled in.

Cheap booster seats are like $15 and most police stations will give them to you if you cannot afford one, so it can't be about the money.

So, did you say anything to the parents?

my husband does 3d animation for law firms and i can't tell you how many cases he's had to animate of children flying out of cars because their idiot parents didn't buckle them in. makes me sick.

I personally don't understand this one at all. When you hear about fatalities in car accidents and what a difference a car seat (or even a seat belt for adults) can make. I do think there are kinds of abuse that are worse, but I think it is a bad enough offense to report to the police if it happens all of the time. At least call out the parent on it. You could save a life.

I feel the same way!!! One time while leaving the liquor store I witnessed some mome struggling to get her kid in the carseat. After 3 seconds she gave up and let him get in the front seat. He was about 1 year old! I walked over and said, "I'm sorry, he has to be in the carseat. It's against the law and extremely dangerous." She just said, "It's to much of a fight." and I reiterated my statement along with telling her that my kids too would fight me, but I would enforce it because I was the mom! I also told her I would call the police. Ballsy, I know. Well, she didn't care just got in the car and drove off. As for the police I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't get her license plate.

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