…is the child restraint, that is, the car seat or infant carrier. The Freakonomics dude found that injury rates for kids in child restraints are indistinguishable from those of kids wearing adult seatbelts. That isn’t because child restraints don’t work; it’s because they are nearly impossible to use.

  1. They require absolutely precise installation and tremendous tightening of slack in all available belts.
  2. Now-mandatory lower LATCH anchors and top tethers are often so hard to reach that installing a seat even once is a trial, let alone moving it from one car to another.
  3. Sometimes you have to use seatbelts to attach the child restraint, an inexact process made worse by early rear three-point belts, some of which require clips you have to get from a dealer.
  4. Parents (in essence, moms) never want to cinch their babies tightly enough into the seats. It seems too tight. Plus, children have all the time in the world back there and eventually develop enough motor control to squirm out from under the belts (and that’s when you have the accident).

I know all this because I went to engineer school to work in automotive safety. I bailed after I got my diploma, and I still have the profound disability that I cannot drive a car.

Nonetheless, I thought this would be perfect for World Usability Day and Usability Camp. I told the organizeuse about it at BarCamp, and she later showed up for my Toronto Interacts presentation, where she proceeded to pitch me to MC the entire event. Funny how registration was later frozen and I wasn’t even allowed to attend. This was all too reminiscent of CopyCamp, which refused to let me in without even asking what I wanted to talk about. (Hint: It wasn’t either of the only issues CopyCamp organizers care about, music and P2P. It was an entirely new topic.) Usability Camp is another of those complete Toronto fuckups. Rather like Mesh, in fact.

The October 2006 Consumer Reports had a very amusing set of tests of high-end sports cars.

While they’re built for speed, the 911 and Z06 are civilized enough for everyday driving. Driving the Viper, however, can be punishing. […] The Viper SRT is the fastest car we’ve ever tested, with staggering power and grip, but its lack of creature comforts cost it dearly in our testes. […] The 2007 SL is the most expensive car Consumer Reports has ever tested, with a base price of $94,800. Options… brought the total to $105,855, about the cost of four years of college.

It was diverting to read the “Driving with Kids” section of each review.

Porsche 911 (and I have seen two 911s with child restraints in the back, obviously from divorced dads on custody days)

Porsche recommends using only Porsche-approved child seats in the 911…. [A]n occupant-sensing system will disable passenger airbags if it detects the weight of a child. A Porsche dealership can add LATCH anchors if needed.

Corvette Z06

Transporting kids in the front seat is not recommended….

Dodge Viper

Everything about the Viper is loud. The engine is booming even in leisurely cruising and roars under acceleration…. Interior refinement is not the Viper’s forte. The utilitarian cabin is simply a place for the driver to operate the vehicle and one wide-eyed passenger to hang on…. Cabin access is very tricky over the tall, wide doorsills that house the scalding-hot exhaust pipes…. [T]here is a key-operated cutoff switch for the passenger airbag.

Mercedes SL550

[T]he SL automatically disables the passenger airbag if children are seated there. There are no LATCH anchors for child seats in the SL.

BMW 650i

The rear seats are not conducive to getting child seats to fit securely using the safety belt…. [F]ront-facing seats will be difficult to secure, even with LATCH.

Jaguar XK

Because the front seats don’t slide forward far enough and the rear backrest is too vertical, the rear seats are unusable for installing child seats, even though they have LATCH anchors.

Lexus SC

Rear-facing infant seats will not fit in the back seat because there is not enough room behind the front seatback. Front-facing child seats are difficult to secure, even with LATCH anchors, because the seatback is so upright that the child seat has to tilt forward.

Cadillac XLR

There’s no LATCH or top-tether anchor point for child seats.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.11.16 17:01. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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