Emotional YouTube Video Stirs Car Seat Safety Debate

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A Youtube home video by a mother who lost her child in a car accident has ignited a debate over the safety of car seats versus booster seats for young children.

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 press release but can be found at http://www.tinyride.com/britax-regent-car-seat.aspx.

According to Kyle's mother, a car seat with a 5-point harness could have saved the child's life. She even goes as far as recommending a specific car seat model suitable for older children (the Britax Regent) and encouraging viewers to "learn from [our] loss" by keepikng older children in a car seat with a 5-point harness.

Ever since this heart wrenching video came out, many parents all over the country have rushed to move their children from a booster seat back into what is essentially a giant car seat: the Britax Regent. This sudden surge in demand has even caused the manufacturer to be back ordered for several month.

Is this an over-reaction? Another group of parents believes it is: In their opinion, seatbelt failures are very rare and certainly not as common as the video claims. In addition, they point out that the latch system used to attach a car seat can not be used above 48 pounds in most vehicles, which means that the car seat must be attached by a regular seat belt, just like a booster seat would be.

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Dan Slomka
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