Thursday, March 02, 2006

Double Standards

Excuse me if I vent and rant a little today. There are a few things in my life I am passionate about - my family, my religion, education. I'm also passionate about a few issues. One of those related to children is car seats and car seat safety. Maybe I am just a paranoid fanatic. Maybe it's because my husband and I know what it is like to lose a child (not in a car accident, but the thought of losing another in any way freaks me out). Maybe I am just crazy (a likely possibility). But car seat and car seat safety are very important to me.

Mark and I researched car seats carefully before purchasing one. We checked Consumer Reports, read reviews, talked to others. We took the time to have both our car seats professionally installed. We learned all we could about the proper use and restraint of a car seat. We've done some research and have decided to keep Camden rear facing until he is at least 2 if at all possible. We want to keep Camden as safe as possible in our car.

So it drives me crazy when I see people ignore the importance of car seats, booster seats, and proper restraint. I bite my tongue because I am not a confrontational person, but I silently scream inside. I know I need to speak up more about this if I feel strongly and I intend to in the future. The other day my mother in law came over to pick up my sister in law (the one not on bedrest) and her 5 month old son. She also picked up my other sister in law's (the one on bedrest) two children and took them all back to her house - 30 minutes away. The only one properly restrained was the 5 month old. The other two children - ages 5 and 4 - were placed in regular seat belts with no booster seat of any kind. The 4 year old was also placed in the front seat. As I watched them drive away, I turned to Mark and said, "I am never letting Camden ride with your mom. And I should have said something about K in the front seat."

Now comes the one that really annoys me. Camden is in daycare about two days a week. The past few weeks, when I have come to pick up Camden, there is a local police officer there picking up his son who is probably 4 or 5 in age. He picks up his son in his city issued police cruiser. Each week I watch this officer place his son in the car and drive off. I've looked and not seen any sort of car seat or booster seat. It has bothered me, thinking his son is not properly restrained, but I wanted to make sure I was right that there wasn't any sort of proper restraint in his police cruiser. Yesterday, the officer was there again. This time I decided to walk by his car on my way out with Cam and look carefully. And sure enough, there is no type of booster seat anywhere in his police cruiser. I watched as the officer came out with his boy. I watched as he placed his son in the front seat, fastened the regular seat belt (at least he did that), and drove off. This is an officer people! In his uniform and in his police cruiser! Shouldn't he have to obey the law?

I wrote down his license plate down yesterday. And today I am debating - should I call this in and report it? I really want to for many reasons. One, if that was me not restraining my son properly or placing him in the front seat, I'd be pulled over and ticketed, no matter how close to the daycare center I may live. Two, as an officer, shouldn't he uphold the law and set an example, especially in his cruiser and in uniform when doing this? Three, what if something happened to his son? Could I live with myself? But part of me holds back. Mainly because I am nonconfrontational type of person and it is hard for me to do things like that. Also I am afraid of retribution. This is a small town and the good ole boy network is still very much in effect out here. If I report him, will he start watching for me and looking for reasons to pull me over?

This has bothered me for days now, wondering how he can get away with this. And I think he needs to know people are noticing and it is not all right. If he weren't in his uniform and police cruiser, I don't think I'd be so upset. But I feel he needs to be an example to others. If people seeing an officer doing it, won't they think they can do it? I don't want to get this officer in trouble, but I do want him to know people look to him as an example of following the law.

My questions for you today - what would you do in this situation? And what issues are you passionate about? Share with me!


Goslyn said...

Rachelle -

Maybe rather than calling it in and reporting it to his supervisors, you could approach him this afternoon and mention your concern to him.

If he does not take the suggestion kindly, or if you notice him continuing to improperly restrain his child, then call. But maybe the first step should come from you to him. Seems nicer than calling his boss on him.

I too, am passionate about child safety seats. It's great that you took time to post about this.

Good luck.

(And don't let your child ride with MIL, unless she gets her act together.)

Rachelle said...

Good idea Goslyn. I've though about talking to him about it too. I think I will do that first. I don't want to get him in trouble. I just want him to know that people notice and that as an officer, he should set an example.

Mr. Mom said...

I think that all too often people do not realize that danger lurks really close to home. In other words, it has been proven that most accidents occur within a mile from home. I think that I would talk to him first too maybe even in a casual conversation like "Oh, don't they even let you put carseats in your police cruiser?".

You know my other pet peeves: parking illegally in a handicap spot, talking on a cell phone while driving, interrupting someone when they are helping someone else...and the list goes on and on. lol

Anonymous said...

Yes, I absolutely think you should report him.

One of my friends has an extra-flighty mom. One day the mom was picking up the grandchild (age 2) and couldn't figure out the carseat. So she used DUCT TAPE to hold the car seat in. I'm not kidding. I would've had a stroke.

Kathy said...

duct tape? people!

I would be just as torn as you are, but at the end of the day, you have to be true to you. Since it is something you feel passionately about, (and it is THE LAW!) you can be an activist one person at a time. I'm with Goslyn, I'd talk to him first, then I'd see what happens...

Melzie said...

I wouldn't report him. I wonder what the laws state? Where we lived prior, a child over 4 yrs of age could ride without a booster. Myself, my 7 yr old is stioll in one. My good friend, her 4 & 6 yr olds aren't.

My big "law" peeves would be: 'illegal' handicap parking, and talking on a cell while driving.

Sugarmama said...

Personally, I'd hate to piss off an officer of the law. I might leave him some sort of flyer on his windshield or something. I'm wimpy that way, though.

Alicia said...
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Alicia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alicia said...

Sorry, deletes were mine...

You are singing my song, sister! I am peeved about this type of thing on a daily basis.

I would say something to police guy. Maybe "Could you help clear something up for me? I always thought that the law said ____ as far as using booster seats go. But, I've noticed that your ds doesn't use one. Am I mistaken?"

I'm currently trying to become a carseat tech. That way I can say "I'm a carseat tech and ____" Maybe people won't be defensive that way.

Fat Girl is still riding rear facing at 16 months (and 25 pounds) and Little Boy is in a 5 point harness even though most of his friends are in boosters. Yay for safe kids!

Lei said...

Wowzers... hmmm, I think I would report him, too.

lackrik said...

I think I'd report him too. I'd probably do the passive/aggressive way and leave a note on his windshield too.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh...I'm definitely passionate about people doing what's right and respectful for children. I know that sounds like a sweeping blanket kinda statement, but you would not BELIEVE what I run into with parents/nannies....children don't need to be coddled, or catered to, but they do need and deserve respect.
Good for you for feeling so strongly about safety -- I'm a non driver, so I've never had to worry about this, but making an unsafe decision when a safe one can be easily made just seems plain dumb.

emlouisa said...

I would probably report him and try to do it anonymously (sp?) but I am wussy like that.

I hate when kids aren't buckled in either. Mil always wants to take my kids "just down the street" in the car and thinks I am totally irrational for saying no. ("MY kids never wore seatbelts and they were fine....") Whatever.

mommy to six J's said...

That is a hard decission I say pray about it to see the best way to handle this situation.I think it is a good idea to talk to him first and say I am concered for your sonS saftey. Have a great weekend

bon said...

I try to do unto others... so yeah, I'd talk to the guy first. I'd probly start with the whole..."so I what is the law? because I THOUGHT that it said..." and then be highly nonplussed when he replys "oh, umm..." and not laugh if he tries to laugh it off. Then if it didn't change AND HOW! I would be calling his superior officer in a hot second. It could be that the law is based on weight and or height as opposed to age, in which case, it's good to know that too.

I would like to give kudos to those of you able to keep yer kids rear facing past the requisite year and weight... with my kids it's actually safer for them to be front facing as soon as it's legal. They are so nasty and unhappy about the rear facing position that I am likely to kill them for being so vile, at the very least they are a big fat wailing ball of distraction.

Nicole said...

Rachelle - go read my blog for today. I need your help!


Amber said...

That would drive me bonkers!!

On the drive home from Utah yesterday we passed a car with AZ plates that had three adults in the front (not buckled in) one of whome was pregnant- another was holding a baby that was probably about 10 months old.

There were FIVE children in the back of this car (small car- mostly likely had five seatbelts total) wandering around, climbing into the rear window ect.

I'm also very passionate about car seats. Ashley at age seven is still in a booster. She will be for a while still. Megan will be in a five point harness until she exceeds the weight limit.

I'm obviously not passionate about housecleaning since I'm here rather then cleaning like I should be.

GiBee said...

Okay ... can I just say ... that if the family I bloged about several weeks ago that lives in Arkansas and has 16 (as in SIXTEEN) kids, and ALL the little ones have appropriate car seats that are all appropriately strapped into their family mini-bus -- well -- if THEY can do it, I'm pretty certain a police officer should do it!

I'm just saying.