Car seats for smaller cars, please!

Yesterday, Alex picked up our new car seat. It’s a Britax Marathon, designed to grow with the child as it grows. A smart idea. And because it’s a permanent seat (as opposed to a removable seat), we think there’s a bit more security in that.

Except for one problem: it won’t fit in the Jetta.

Alex tried several different ways of fitting it in, but all of them basically required the front seat to be cranked forward to give the child’s car seat enough room. To which I offered the following criticism:

How the hell do these seat manufacturers expect us to get ourselves in the damn car if the child’s seat is taking up all the room?

Alex’s very wise (and likely very accurate) response: The seats are designed for minivans and SUVs.

There’s a moment when you hit the point of despair. Not from difficulty in installing a car seat, or from dealing with concrete contractors who constantly delay your renovations because they couldn’t schedule themselves out of a bathroom break, or even from the fear of what will happen should I lose my job (for whatever reason) while Alex is on leave.

It’s the despair that our assoholic society trends even the safety of our children towards larger and larger vehicles. Aren’t we supposed to be going the other way?

Okay, yes, I live in Calgary, the Pickup Truck Capital of the World. That means that this city has a plethora of SLAs — so much that the overall IQ of drivers in this city dropped a few IQ points for many years. (I have a theory that you actually need to take a idiocy drug when you buy an SUV. So far, I’ve yet to be proven wrong.) Although as of late it’s gotten better, the reality is that we still have far too few small cars for such a large city.

Now I strongly doubt Britax builds seats just for Calgary. We’re too small a market for that to make economic sense. But it’s indicative of North American car-buying culture. Cars that are simply too damn big, that guzzle gas like water, and have enough room to house entire villages in other places of the world.

So for the (seemingly smaller) percentage who believe that a small car is proper and adequate, you’re just out of luck. You can’t use the “larger” car seats because they’re not designed for your wimpy little life. (And no, there aren’t any signs or notices that say this won’t fit in your Yaris.)

Of course, the biggest irony is that these seats are probably designed so that children will survive car crashes in SLAs, which tend to have more mass and wreak more havoc. Which is, of course, why people who own small cars upgrade to larger cars — to survive being hit by people driving SLAs.

I could go on yet another rant about why your average person needs to buy an $80,000, 9 foot tall, 27 foot long, 2 metric tonne monster just to drive around town. But that’s a rant for another time.

I’ve love to ask that manufacturers think about this when they design car seats, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter. We’re (collectively) too obsessed with stupidly large. So we have to downgrade to a (potentially) less safe seat so that it will fit in our car.

Maybe we should just walk everywhere and carry our child with us.

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