Daniel And Annika Riding Safely In Mexico
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As a fairly new parent I love to see different parenting styles as we travel across the world with our children. Pre-kids I didn't think much of this but nowadays I observe child related customs and traditions more than ever. I find it very educational.
Life in Mexico is much about children and family. At least officially. Tremendous effort, money, and care are used on the children but as soon as a child is riding in a car all commons sense, education, and care of the family seems to vanish completely.
The Swedes are boring and believe in keeping our kids safe while letting them go kind of crazy. We've always focused a lot on car safety for kids. Swedish car companies Saab and Volvo built a reputation through the years by building safe cars and their thinking has influenced society greatly. To be frank, 20 years ago their cars were extremely boring and dull, the only way of selling them was to make them reliable and safe. Today, they still make safe and reliable cars but have learned much and cars are no longer a snooze.
It's extremely rare, and also illegal with a huge fine, to transport a child in Sweden without a car seat. People just don't do it. The contrast is striking while visiting Mexico. Almost no child is placed in a car seat. I always think to myself, why go through all this effort in raising a fine child while being prepared to trow it all away in the smallest car accident? Especially when money is not a factor?
The percentage of parents keeping children in car seats back in Sweden is close to 100%. Here the ratio of kids without a car seat is near 100%. I've almost stopped being upset about it and instead try to understand how parents think. It's no easy task. People look at us in a strange way as we strap our kids into their rear facing cars seats as soon as we get into the car.
We did of course bring our rear facing cars seats with us on this trip, actually we always bring them, and it's a great feeling to know our children are riding safely. It's one thing less to worry about.
A little side note to this post is the story of my parents and their amazing safety thinking. Guess how I rode in the car as an infant? In a rear facing car side called "Klippan" (The Rock). The car seat was a little simpler than today but I still find it incredible that my parents used a car set in 1966! Isn't that awesome?! I'm so proud of them!
My own thinking goes something like this. I'm working very hard to be a good and involved father. Through the years I will spend thousands of hours with my kids, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And just imagine the effort required in raising them to be nice and well educated. Why would I want to potentially throw that away by not using a $150 car seat which will almost certainly save my children's lives regardless of how badly I crash? Even If I don't consider effort, money, and time, isn't keeping our little ones safe the right thing to do?
I know this kind of discussion is really boring but a car seat is probably the easiest, cheapest, and most effective thing we can do to keep our children alive. Maybe with the exception of vaccines, but that applies mostly in third world countries. $150 bucks one time cost is equal to a few of those useless battery operated toys that can be found in any home. I's very interesting to talk to people about this subject. It's clear that most believe nothing much happens in a crash at 40 mph or on those short trips around the neighborhood. Besides, everyone is a good driver and can't possibly imagine being in an accident.
Facts are that an accident at 25 mph will most likely kill, or at least severely injure, a baby who is not fastened in a car seat. Despite this I see almost every parent here pull up to their toddler's expensive private school in a nice SUV and just shove them in the back seat. Without a car seat or a seat-belt. I find it heart braking. I just want to run up to each parent and explain the facts.
The problem over here has some to do with money and a lot to do with education. Mexico is overall a very poor country. A high percentage live in poverty and struggle to pay for the most basic things in life. Many can't afford a car and there are millions out of the 90 million population who simply can't afford a car seat. I have full understanding for this and wish I could help them in some way.
But there are also lots of people who have the means to by as many car seat they want, but still don't do it. It's well educated people with money. They spend thousands of dollars each month on private school, nanny, maid, etc but not $150 for a car seat.
Money is for the well educated clearly not a reason for not having a car seat. People simply don't understand the potential danger of a small accident. The Mexicans are really good drivers. But stuff still happens. Some facts that few people know is that most accidents occur within 10 miles of the house and a low speeds. That's bad news for parents. These are usually times where we are relaxed and don't think much of safety. A quick trip to the grocery store or McDonald's. At slow speed. Nothing will ever happen. No need for a car seat. Yeah right.
Have you ever seen footage of what happens in a crash at 40 mph? It's unbelievably scary. Even seeing a toddler fastened in a forward facing car seat at these speeds makes me ill. You can almost see the neck snapping. And lets not even discuss a child without a car seat. You will have to follow the hole in the windshield and look 50 feet ahead to find your baby. The good news are that if a child is sitting in a regular rear facing car seat nothing much happens. The enormous force is easily absorbed. I don't have these clips accessible here in Mexico so I can unfortunately not show them. Just to be clear, a forward facing car seat is still good protection but nowhere near as great as a rear facing.
I think authorities should make it mandatory for parents to watch 5 minutes of these short clips. It would really make parents think twice about protecting their children. Fear is not a good way of teaching people the facts. Education and awareness is. Maybe with a little fear. Some more awareness of what will happen in an accident would save thousands of lives every year. I's a shame that so many focus so much on clothes and toys and so little on a cheap car seat.
Can you spend an extra 10 seconds fastening your kids in their car seats every time they get into the car? Of course you can, and surely you do just that. You might not think much about this simple task but you're making sure that you get to see your children grow up. Many other tragic things can still happen but wouldn't it be a waste to see your kids die in a stupid car accident that could have been prevented by spending $150.
The Mexicans have taught me lot of good things during the past 20 years. Many valuable lessons. But they also have a thing or two to learn about keeping their children safe in cars. I have lately been thinking a lot about the meaning of life and what I can do to make a difference. I could definitely get passionately involved in a project like this. Just image how many kids could be saved from death and paralysis each year.
End of todays boring rant out of Mexico……..
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