By now, nearly every parent with an internet connection has heard of the sad video that came out on YouTube.com in November 2006, urging all parents of toddlers to keep their kids in a car seat with a 5-point harness as opposed to graduating them to booster seat attached with a regular seat belt.
The video was an emotional succession of photos with interspersed screens of text and music playing throughout. For those who missed it, message contained in the video started with:
I’d like you to meet my son Kyle.
Kyle was 3 years old when he was killed because an incompetent driver ran a red light and hit our mini-van at an intersection on May 29th 2005.
Kyle was in a booster seat, wearing his seatbelt when we were hit.
We thought he was protected…
Seatbelts are supposed to work… 100% of the time… right?
Well they don’t.
Seatbelts frequently fail by either unlatching or not tightening upon impact. Kyle’s seatbelt was buckled but came unlatched upon impact.
His big sister was sitting right next to him in an identical booster, but her seatbelt worked and she walked away.
The only difference was that her seat belt worked and his didn’t…
Seatbelts are wonderful things, when they work…
There is something that could have prevented Kyle’s death though…
The full transcript is too long to fit in this article. You can find the rest of the transcript including the reference to the Britax Regent car seat here. The short of it is that according to Kyle’s mother, the Britax Regent car seat could have saved the child’s life.
This heart wrenching video brings up an important issue: Should parents follow the advice in the video and if so, is the Britax Regent the only car seat on the market that will hold children up to 80lbs?
On one hand, it is undeniable that a child properly harnessed by a 5-point harness in a properly installed and tethered car seat will be more protected than a child properly buckled-up in a booster seat. But of course, even the Britax Regent isn’t guaranteed to keep your child safe in the event of an accident. It obviously depends on the conditions of the accident.
On the other hand, does that mean that we should start putting teenagers and even adults in car seats? Of course not. So the decision is basically similar for a young child who is old enough to be in a booster seat: It’s a matter of comfort and convenience versus maximum safety. What makes the Regent a compelling solution is precisely that it is designed to be comfortable and convenient for an older child.
If you are leaning toward moving your child into a Britax Regent, be aware that it’s been in high demand since the video came out and it’s often back ordered. Fortunately, there is one other car seat that will accommodate children up to 80lbs: the Radian 80 made by Sunshine Kids.
Unfortunately attempting to purchase either car seat models often feels like chasing a prized newly released game console: we recommend you at least place an order with a reputable online retailer so you can keep a place in the line. They typically serve their customers on a first come first serve basis.
So a question remains: what should you do to keep your little ones safe while you wait for your Britax Regent or Sunshine Kids Radian 80 to arrive?
If you still have your old convertible car seat handy, you might want to dust it off and put it back in service as it might still be a viable option for the months to come or until your child reaches the weight limit: Some high-quality convertible car seats such as the Britax Marathon, Decathlon and Boulevard car seats will hold children up to 65lbs, which is the usual weight of 6 to 8 year old child anyway (but may obviously not be quite as comfortable as the Regent at that age).
If your child has clearly outgrown his convertible car seat and you’re using a booster seat today, make sure you have a good booster seat and that you’re taking all the precautions possible with it.