Pick Up Trucks, Sports Cars and Kids
We all dream of having that special car or truck. Some of us crave speed and sleek lines. Some of us need practical, usable and rugged vehicles for our lifestyle. Whatever you desire, it can all go out the window when you start to raise a family. Oh, but the joy a family brings is so much more fulfilling. After all, a big pickup truck can't snuggle up with you to watch cartoons on a rainy day. A sports car can't run at you when you come through the front door and give you the biggest greeting at the end of a long day. There is a way to meet the needs and safety of children while still enjoying a comparable vehicle to meet your needs or desires.
There are plenty of sport utility trucks that can accommodate your desire for luxury and durability and still keep your kids safe. There are large crew cabs, access cabs and regular cabs. When shopping for your next pickup truck, keep in mind considerations and features. If you do not buy a truck with an extended cab, then your child will have to sit up front. For years, safety experts, the AAP and NHTSA all recommend the back seat for children 12 and younger. So what is one to do with a pickup truck? First, the truck should come with an air bag sensor or on/off switch. This way a smaller child under a certain weight can sit in the front seat without the airbag deploying, or it will deploy with less force. Ironically, the front of the vehicle is designed to help protect the front seat occupants, more so than for the back seat occupants. There are crumple zones, knee bolsters, the engine drops down, airbags deploy, the front glass doesn't shatter, etc. The front of the vehicle absorbs the brunt of the crash forces before it impacts the occupant.
If you choose a truck with an extended cab, be sure the back vehicle seat is large enough to accommodate a child's car seat. Most manufacturers require 80% of the car seat base to fit on the vehicle seat. You also have to take into account whether or not the child's car seat can fit rear-facing. Some smaller trucks have side-facing jump seats and child seats cannot be installed on these seats.
When it comes to top tether, some trucks have a short distance between the car seat and the top tether anchor which could make it challenging to install the top tether. One vehicle in particular has the most unique top tether anchor positions and routing instructions for the outboard and center seating positions.
This makes it somewhat challenging to install a car seat in this vehicle. Definitely check out how complex the top tether installation can be so you can decide if the vehicle is a good fit. Remember, top tethers help reduce forward movement which reduces injury.
When it comes to installing a child's car seat in a sports car or convertible there are not as many options. In most cases the front seat is the only option. Even though there are advanced airbag sensors, there are still warnings that the back seat is still the safest place for a child. Keep in mind when EMS crews arrive on the scene of a crash, they immediately cut the battery so the airbags can't deploy if they haven't already done so. There is always a potential of an airbag deploying. After all, it's a mechanical product and like all mechanical products, there might be a chance it will malfunction. Why take the chance with your child? If there is a back seat, again, it might be too small for a child restraint. Even if one fits, the distance between the child and the front seat is short and therefore, increases the chance of serious injury to the child in a frontal crash. Furthermore, some convertible cars are not required to have top tether anchors. In a frontal crash this eliminates the extra protection for a child in a car seat. As mentioned before, top tethers reduce forward movement. Another thing to consider is the vehicle's small physical size. With so many larger SUVs on the road, going up against them in a crash is usually not a fair fight.
Suffice it to say, it can be a challenge to transport children safely in some vehicles. If you have a second vehicle which allows for a tight and correct installation, it should be your primary vehicle for transportation. This gives your child the best chance of survival in a crash. We cannot place our children in a bubble forever, but we can give them the optimum protection while they are still young and vulnerable.