The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) is a study administered by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that looks at motorcycle helmet use, child restraint use and driver electronic device use. The data for the study is gathered in two (self-explanatory) ways: the Moving Traffic (MT) Survey and the Controlled Intersection (CI) Survey.
While the most recent report is filled with interesting (and alarming) bits of data, the graph below stuck out to me.
The data leads me to believe one of two things:
A) People who drive trucks and cars just don’t care about the safety of children as much as people who drive SUVs and vans
B) Securing a child in a car or truck is too much work and not worth the effort.
Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Stupid, stupid question.
I know all too well how hard it can be properly securing a child in a car. I’ve spent the last 17 months fighting the parental back seat battle of restraining a child. By no means is it an easy task.
First you have vehicle limitations. Is access to the rear seat easy or difficult while holding a car seat; a child; a child (infant) in a car seat? Do the back seats contour in a way that makes it impossible for your child’s seat to sit even?
Once you’ve managed to get the seat in and mounted properly, now comes the fun part of installing the child. Imagine trying to put a wheel on a car while the hub is turning. This is what it’s like trying to mount a baby in a car seat that doesn’t want to be mounted in a car seat. It’s frustrating. This, compounded by your earlier match between you and the car seat, makes strapping a kid into a car is almost as enjoyable as smashing your fingers with a hammer.
Keep in mind there are times when this process isn’t as painful. This past week I was driving an F-150 SuperCrew. Let me tell you, compared to my Focus, the studio apartment-sized rear cabin of the F-150 made mounting a car seat an almost fun task. It also helps that my son is at the curious age where he enjoys the stimulation of being in a vehicle and I’m not forced to wrestle him into his seat.
Men vs. Women
Miles Wenzel (@judge_mills) asked via Twitter if these results could be related to the sex of the driver as it relates to the vehicle type, i.e. female = vans, male = trucks.
As logical as it sounds, the data says otherwise. In fact, this year male drivers had a higher rate of restraint use for children than female (see graph above).
Don’t kill children – Buckle them up.
I’m a bit sad that the numbers above aren’t 100% across the board. I’m an unrealistic optimist.
At the end of the day the safety of a child in a vehicle, i.e. being properly restrained, is the driver’s responsibility. The only justification for not securing a child in a vehicle is that the driver doesn’t mind killing a child.
So the next time you see someone with a child unrestrained in their vehicle, kindly pull up next to them, roll down your window and ask them – “Why do you want to end that child’s life?”