Not All Tragedies are Preventable

Hi Readers! While we’re on the topic of crib recalls, as well as when parenting intervention is called for and all that, I just had to link to this efynzafskh
phenomenal essay
from The Economist: “Not All Tragedies are Preventable.” As it says in the opening paragraph:

LEGISLATION that bears the name of a victim of a particular crime or accident is often bad legislation. That’s because lawmakers, feeling the pressure of an emotionally-charged constituency, tend to overreact, instituting a broad and aggressive policy in response to a specific, perhaps rare problem. And so it is with the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2008, which directs the secretary of transportation to take measures to protect children in and around parked vehicles. The act is named after a two-year old who was tragically run over by his father as he backed into his driveway in 2002. Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal reported on the latest outcome of this legislation: starting in September 2012 new cars will be required to expand their field of view in an effort to reduce blind spots on the sides and rear of vehicles. This will effectively require carmakers to install rear-mounted video cameras.

Later on, the article talks about whether it really makes sense to mandate a “safety” measure that is expensive and saves few lives, considering the trade-off costs:

If the cost of the regulation is borne by carmakers it will… reallocate resources at the government’s behest that might otherwise be used to increase driver safety, improve fuel efficiency, or pay for employees’ health benefits….. More importantly, if we’re thinking about the children, this $2-billion-a-year tax equivalent would do more good if it were directed at improving the nutrition of youngsters from poor families, paying for research into and treatment of common childhood diseases or expanding programmes like SCHIP.

It’s always easier to think of a single tragedy —  a “poster child” — than it is to wrap our minds around a bigger problem like autism, or failing schools, or a lack of public park space. And it also risks sounding heartless, since we can SEE the poster child and we can’t see “a lack of arts education.” But I agree with this Economist writer: Often enough, legislation that focuses on a rare and horrifying tragedy does not improve the world that much, and may take our attention and money away from bigger problems that just don’t stab us through the heart. — Lenore

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47 Responses to Not All Tragedies are Preventable

  1. Marie December 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I think they may hit a pretty receptive market. My mother was talking the other day about wanting a rear mounted video camera for her car, because she’s afraid of hitting a child. She sometimes grumbles that kids today aren’t given enough freedom to be kids, so overprotective is not her usual thing at all.

  2. Arjen Lentz December 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Particularly in USA, cars are ridiculously big. When I rented a Ford Focus there, the rental agent reckoned it was a compact car and worried whether 4 people with luggage would fit. It fit fine, heaps of space.
    The same car in Australia would be significantly smaller, and I do mean in all dimensions. The US one was just unnecessarily massive.

    Australia too though has an issue with more and more parents buying big people movers and 4-wheel drives just to shuttle the kids around. These are exactly the kind of vehicles with huge blind spots.

    Sticking on cameras is a so-called an “end of pipe solution”, it doesn’t deal with the actual issues.
    Indeed not all tragedies are preventable, but I do seriously question the choice-of-vehicle that many parents make. Responsibility is a fine thing too.

  3. Kate December 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    My FIL works for the government analyzing all of the data and making recommendations about stuff like this. In fact, we had an extensive conversation about this exact issue a few months ago and he said that even though they weren’t recommending it because it isn’t “cost effective” (ie most lives saved per dollars spent) it was going to pass because it’s parents running over their own kids so they’re willing to spend the extra money.

  4. Anouk December 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    I’ve mentioned it before on this blog: my husband and I lost a child in a drowning accident. It was preventable by easy means but no one saw them until it was too late. Now, things happen. Unwanted and tragic things, like the death of a child. It took us years to recover, only to be hit by another tragedy. We pulled ourselves out of that one, too, but it required a great deal of time, and a therapist.
    The point being that you survive loss. How needless, tragic it is and the overwhelming feeling that you are to die on the spot. You don’t feel like you will but you do.
    I live in a country that is trying to abolish death. There are national goals to get zero deaths in electrical accidents, zero car accident deaths etc. It is, by all intents and purposes, an attempt to abolish death. We all have to die sometime, and we die of something. As tragic as it is and I’d have given my own life for my child, you do carry on.

    As for cars and car accidents. Use a seat belt, use a proper safety seat for your child, use common sense and let us realise how small the risk is that you will run over your child with your car.

  5. Jen Connelly December 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    We drive a big ass full sized truck (F-150 super crew but with a short bed so it could be even more massive). It serves our family well and the 4×4 has come in handy many times even living in the city.

    I LOVE driving the truck but I NEVER move if there is a child anywhere near the vehicle. When we lived in Chicago even if the kids were on the curb I refused to back into the parking place until all of them (my kids and the neighborhood kids) were on the sidewalk and in my field of view. If one wandered away I stopped and yelled for them to go back to where I could see them. It’s impossible to see right behind the truck. My kids don’t even come over the top of the tailgate. Heck, my head is barely above it (I have to climb on the bumper to reach into the bed).
    We now have a driveway and if we’re pulling in or out with kids around they are required to go stand in the yard where we can see them. Obviously it’s not fool proof but it can definitely prevent bad things from happening. Most of the horrible parent-running-over-the-kid stories I’ve read about started with the parents “assuming” the kids were away from the car or that someone was watching them. Unless I KNOW I don’t move. If my kids even come an inch closer to the truck from where I told them to stand I slam on the breaks and make them go back. My older kids act like I’m nuts but it stuck with the 4yo. She yells at other kids to get back when she sees a car pulling into a driveway.

    This new law is going to do one thing…make vehicles more expensive. Most families (mine included) will opt for older models without the fancy cameras and such. I know very few families that buy brand new cars. Actually I don’t think I know any. So, I guess it won’t effect me until those “safer” vehicles start being sold as used in about 3-5 years (not that they would ever be in our price range, lol).

  6. Nicola December 19, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    I wonder – with our lovely phobic government and populace – if someone will come up with the idea to help fight terrorism by placing a black box in the car to record any time the car is turned on. You know, it would only use so much battery. Then, if you’re ever brought to court for something illegal, say, letting your child out of your sight (because that’s where we’re heading), the system could go ahead and subpoena those recordings. Maybe if you’re guilty of something else caught on camera, you can be not only thrown in jail, but implanted with a chip so that when you get out, the government can help keep you and your child safe by monitoring where you go at all times – to be linked up with your child, no less. So, they need a chip too…

    Ahhhh, conspiracy theories are fun, yeah?

  7. gramomster December 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    A-freakin’-men. That is all.

  8. Sean December 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    It is always a seen versus unseen problem. Take FDA drug regulations — Seen: regulations ‘stop’ snake oil being sold and demand extreme testing for safety. Unseen, all the drugs which are never created because of the cost of all that testing AND all of the patients denied drugs because they now cost too much.

    ALL regulations add costs to goods, and regulations are an impediment on the freedom of individuals to choose THEIR tradeoffs.

  9. Kenny Felder December 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I remember reading about a study–I can’t even remember if I read about it on your blog, Lenore, or somewhere else–but it speaks volumes. You go around and ask people for money, telling them that if you raise a certain amount, you will be able to save the life of a child. Then you go around and ask (different) people for money, telling them that if you raise a certain amount–the same amount as in the first example–you will be able to save the lives of eight children.

    The first appeal gets more donations.

    “One dead child” is a tragedy; “eight dead children” is a statistic. That’s one of the reasons why we work harder to prevent the occasional kidnapping-by-stranger than the ubiquitous death-by-starvation.

  10. Sky December 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    “I wonder – with our lovely phobic government and populace – if someone will come up with the idea…placing a black box in the car…”

    Are you joking, or are you not aware that somebody already has? A bill to require black boxes on all new cars passed the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee back in May of this year – I don’t know what happened to the bill after that. Some cars do have these black boxes already, they just aren’t required by law at the moment (or Are they? What happened to that bill? )

  11. Kim December 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    I drive a Prius. I read through the owners manual one day, and while they don’t specifically call it a ‘black box’, trust me, my car has a black box. Everything I do, right down to how fast I drive and when I last had my oil changed, is recorded.

    I still love my car. 🙂

    Our other vehicle is a truck…a V8! Yeah, so the truck and the Prius cancel each other out. Hehe. We pull our fairly large camper with the truck when we go camping in the summer, and a back up camera would be helpful but we don’t have one. I would get one, though,. just for when we pull the camper. We really do have very major blind spots while towing. If you see a pick-up truck towing a travel trailer, give them lots of room! We haven’t had an accident and we’re good and careful drivers, but sometimes we just can’t see you!

    There. That was my public service announcement for today. 😉

  12. Christina December 19, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    What I can’t wrap my mind around is how the fact that children go hungry in this country every day doesn’t stab us in the collective heart every day.

  13. Ash December 20, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    Problem : Kids are not taught proper road safety, neither at home nor at school

    Symptom : Rise in accidents

    Solution : MASSIVE SAFETY

    Symptom disappeared, so solution is effective

    Hidden problem, kids who dont know a thing about safety on their own and cannot think, remained. And will not be adressed because there was a solution against the symptom

    A basic lesson about road safety for 5yo’s would have prevented a lot broader range of accidents than some stupid camera

  14. Library Diva December 20, 2010 at 2:27 am #

    It makes me think of “Kendra’s Law” that we have in NYS, which allows a judge to compel a mentally ill person to take treatment, including medication. It’s named after a young woman who was pushed on to a subway track and killed by a young man who was schizophrenic and off his meds.

    But that’s only half the story. The young man in question actually *had* sought treatment earlier that week. He knew he was on the edge and needed help. He went to a free clinic he knew of, and was told that they were so overwhelmed, it would be a week or more before they could help him. In other words, more funding for community mental health would have been as effective a cure for that situation as a new law.

  15. FSR December 20, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    Lenore — I’m an aspiring parent who cares deeply about raising an empowered and confident child. I’ve read your book, I routinely read your blog, and I agree with at least 2/3 of what you say, particularly that we should focus more on common problems than on rare problems.

    As a bicycle commuter in an urban area, I can assure you that traffic incidents involving blind spots are a common problem. I’m not sure how many of those accidents will be prevents by having back-up cameras, but it *will* get the public used to the idea that we could reduce or eliminate blind spots if only we had the political will to make it happen. So this law could pave the way for another law requiring (for example) that vehicles not have any blind spots at all.

    You’ve expressed frustration in your blog at the mentality of “when there’s an accident, someone must be blamed”. Here’s my take: Unless blame is assigned, nothing will change. Not all tragedies are preventable, but when a problem is both common and serious we *do* need change.

  16. spacefall December 20, 2010 at 2:54 am #

    This is a depressingly common kind of accident, which is why one of the first rules in most of the driving manuals I’ve come across is “check behind your vehicle before reversing out of a parking spot.” There are also a lot of rules about keeping an eye on your blind spot for cyclists — although the best solution there seems to be having bike lanes.

    The problem is not that this kind of accident is completely unpreventable. The problem is that too many incompetent drivers have licenses. The problem is that nobody is willing to admit there should be about 80% fewer cars on the road. :S

  17. trb December 20, 2010 at 3:18 am #

    I recently lived in Japan. There all cars beep when they back up. So the people around them know to look out. It was nice because my then 4 year old could easily recognize when a car was backing up and that he needed to be close to me/ on the sidewalk or whatever. I like the idea that it is just as much my responsibility of getting out of the way as it is for the person in the car.

  18. Steph December 20, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    A couple of years ago I bought a small SUV and I learned a good lesson from a veteran large SUV driver: he said that when he’s going to enter his vehicle, he always walks around the backside, to get to the driver’s door.

    Even if he’s parked so that the driver’s side is directly in front of him, he takes the time to walk around the entire vehicle. That’s what, a few seconds?

    I suppose a child could still come out and get behind the vehicle, but this is an easy, free way to minimize that risk.

  19. Ash December 20, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    <3 the japanese solution. Heck, its as easy as wiring a small buzzer to the rear white light

  20. pentamom December 20, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    But the problem with (or at least the rather significant limitation of) the Japanese solution is that not all cars will have it for a long, long time as long as there are older cars still out there. But people will be trained to expect it, which will make kids even LESS cautious about cars backing up, and drivers MORE likely to assume they have nothing to worry about. Yes, the latter is foolish, but it’s also typical human behavior that must be taken into a account.

  21. Matt December 20, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    With respect to the rear-mounted camera systems, I have my own questions about whether this actually adds to safety. I had one in a rental vehicle once and found it completely distracting — you have to take your attention off of where you _should_ be looking when backing up, which is _everywhere_ to the rear of the vehicle, and instead you’re watching a video screen that has your head facing _forward_, that not only shows you only a fraction of the things behind you, but requires you switch your head back and forth to see the rest of the rear of the vehicle.

    I do think part of the problem here is we design vehicles too big, but the rear visibility on a Yukon is likely no different from what it was on a ’49 Packard. The fault likes not in our products, dear Brutus, but in ourselves. Situational awareness in the driver is the best safety feature that can be installed, and the one most badly in need up upgrading across the board.

    In the meantime, as with the crib-dropping, I wonder whether anybody’s actually studied the impact of the rear-video cameras.

  22. Ali December 20, 2010 at 5:58 am #

    An SUV ran over the poor kid, as in most of the cases where kid was run over. Please ban SUVs. Just sayin.

  23. ebohlman December 20, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Kenny, Christina: It seems as if the human mind has an “optimal level of outrage”: if something objectionable is either “too mild” or “too severe” we tend to tune it out, in the latter case because it makes us feel helpless. The kinds of outrages that get lots of media attention and that capture the public attention are those that hit the “sweet spot”.

    Of course, it also helps if the outrage can be described in sound bites. The Michael Vick dogfighting scandal is a good example of a “right-sized” outrage. Lots of kids going hungry is a “too big” outrage.

  24. oncefallendotcom December 20, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    The easiest way to shut off the brain of a politician is to name a bill after a person.

  25. kloppenmum December 20, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    A great way to get people to abdicate personal responsibility, is having lots of safety devices and laws.

  26. Teri December 20, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    I don’t see the need to put these on all vehicles, but on certain models with large blinds spots, yes, I can see requiring them. The manufacturers will be more likely to design vehicles without the blind spots if their vehicles have a “bad mark” with having to have a camera required.

  27. MartinMamma December 20, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    I’m a little taken aback by the whole “legislation named after someone is usually bad” bc the first laws that come to mind would be “Megans Law” and “Code Adam” and – hopefully soon – “Mario’s Law” .. those aren’t overreactions or bad laws. They are much needed and it’s a shame those children had to die – or in Mario’s case be mutilated – just to get those laws on the books, bc they should have been there before all that happened.

  28. Geigerin December 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    I’m with you MartinMama. How about the Brady Bill?

    However, I understand the sentiment behind this. We spend so much time and money on ‘smaller’ issues when those same resources would be better directed at bigger problems with more widespread impact.

  29. Uly December 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Megan’s Law? I just checked Wikipedia, and this is what they say:

    A December 2008 study of the law in New Jersey concluded that it had no effect on community tenure (i.e., time to first re-arrest), showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses, had no effect on the type of sexual re-offense or first time sexual offense (still largely child molestation/incest), and had no effect on reducing the number of victims of sexual offenses. The authors felt that given the lack of demonstrated effect of the law on sexual offenses, its growing costs may not be justifiable.[2]

    The citation there is from here. A law that does nothing? Has no effect? Doesn’t lower the type of crime we want to prevent? Waste of time and money – and a bad law.

    Adam’s Law? Again, I checked Wikipedia to see exactly which law it was – and this what it says under “criticism”:


    Several civil rights groups including those who are advocates for child victims have argued that this law and those like it actually put children in harm’s way. By placing everyone who has ever been convicted of a sex crime onto the internet registry, the Government is essentially making it impossible for parents to identify who is truly a threat and who is not. Currently, Texas places children as young as ten years old onto the internet sex offender registry. It has been argued that money spent monitoring these low-risk offenders is a waste of tax payer money and resources.

    I’ve said much the same about sex offender registries in general, I didn’t know that what I was complaining about in specific was Adam’s Law. A law that makes it harder to identify actual threats? I can’t really call that *good*.

  30. SKL December 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    I think the rear cameras may be ineffective because people don’t really look at them unless they “expect” to see something / someone there. I have 2 friends who have them standard on their cars. They never glance at them. And they live in a house with 2 preschoolers.

  31. Taylor December 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Calling a law by a child’s name is just an all around a strange thing to do. It’s an attempt to milk emotion when emotion needs to be in the backseat (if allowed in the car at all). I’ve been thinking about the word “tragedy.” Once upon a time “personal tragedy” was often used instead. For example, a child falling off a stack of hay bales and dying would have been a “personal tragedy” for that child’s family, whereas today it’s simply a “tragedy” for the community at large. Or at least that portion of the community that isn’t heartless. Once a tragedy was an earthquake where a dozen were killed. Now any freak accident is a tragedy.

    No doubt, if one of my children died it would be a personal tragedy. But I think the world would be worse off if everyone else (i.e. complete strangers) experienced it as deeply as I did. Maybe that seems counterintuitive, or even countercultural, but at least for starters, we’d all be miserable all the time.

  32. owen59 December 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Policy, health prevention, quality lifestyle improvements and the market place are a complex equation. I wrote a small comment here .
    On this specific problem, it happens everywhere in the vehicular world and it happens when an adult takes their eye off an toddler for a mere moment. I don’t know any other solution that absolute vigilance where toddlers are concerned.
    Q Does free range only apply to the over 7 year olds?

  33. Hannah @A Mother in Israel December 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Did you hear the joke about the newly elected politician who wanted to make a name for himself. He was told to read the newspaper and find a problem, then propose a law to solve that problem. The next day he read that most people killed in train accidents were sitting in the first and last cars of the train. So he proposed a law to eliminate the first and last cars from the train . . .

  34. Paula December 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Isn’t this parental responsibility? Why was the 2 year old not being watched? Why was he behind the car?

  35. BMS December 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    What irks me is how in some circles NOT owning an SUV is tantamount to child abuse.

    I drive a 13 year old Geo Tracker convertible – it’s our only car. It has a roll bar, but otherwise, it’s basically a soft top jeep like thing. I have had parents refuse to let me give their kids a ride in my car because it ‘wasn’t safe’. I dunno, the car predates the kids’ arrival at our house, and some how they survived to 4th and 3rd grade. The only time I’ve ever had a problem is when we need to go camping – can’t fit the camping gear in at the same time as the passengers, so we rent a bigger car then.

    But I have seen so many sensible people drive small, efficient city cars for decades, but then the second they have their first child WHAM, we neeeeeeed to have an Explorer for saaaaafety because everyone knows that you die instantly if you dare to leave your driveway in a sedan. It’s nuts.

  36. Dave December 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Accidents happen. Death and injury are always tragic but accidents are just that accidents. Not all can be prevented. Limited resources need to go to where they can do the best good not to where they make us feel the best about doing something, anything. Will reason ever win out over emotion. Let us hope so. Good article.

  37. pentamom December 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    “No doubt, if one of my children died it would be a personal tragedy. But I think the world would be worse off if everyone else (i.e. complete strangers) experienced it as deeply as I did. Maybe that seems counterintuitive, or even countercultural, but at least for starters, we’d all be miserable all the time.”

    Doesn’t seem counterintuitive to me at all. But I think rather than being miserable all the time, we’d just become desensitized to the things that really *should* deeply affect us. A human being simply isn’t capable of agonizing over every misfortune of every other person *to the same extent that* a normal person agonizes over something that touches him closely. Therefore, if we started doing that, or trying to do that, it would probably make us all into people incapable of real emotion, unable to feel appropriate emotions. Or maybe we’d just all become narcissists, incapable of *any* strong feelings or empathy except when we are touched personally and directly. Hey, sorry your kid died, but I don’t really care because at least it wasn’t mine! — that kind of thing.

  38. EricS December 21, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    I don’t believe in accidents. To me, 99% of incidences are preventable. That they are all human error. I’m sure if you look at all “accident” reports, you’ll find that it could have been prevented, had people thought things through. There is still that 1% that is really unforeseeable, but that doesn’t happen very often.

    It’s true how some people just over react after a certain incident. It’s like putting a band-aid over a gash. They aren’t fixing the problem, they are just putting things in place to get around it. As in this case, all the father really needed to do, as with any parent, ALWAYS make sure the area around your car is clear before getting in and rolling out. It doesn’t take much time and effort, it’s free, and as simple as scratching your ass. Mandating a rear camera be installed on all vehicles, isn’t going to matter much if the driver doesn’t pay attention to the monitor.

    Again, common sense. That’s all it takes.

    @ Hannah: lol! That’s politicians for you.

  39. Robin December 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    Why do they have to be mandated? Why can’t they just be an option just like the moonroof and leather seats? If I don’t feel the need to have one why should I be forced to? Just like the cribs, when do I get to make a decision about my risk aversion? I’m getting completely fed up with other people telling me what’s best for me, and then forcing me to pay for it.

  40. maggie walkup December 21, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    “Situational awareness in the driver is the best safety feature that can be installed, and the one most badly in need up upgrading across the board”

    What? and take personal responsibility?! No way! It seems people are always ready to blame someone else or someTHING else for anything that happens. In the instance of the child getting hit – was the driver looking? did they let the boy know they’d be backing up? did someone teach the boy to get out of the way of cars and/or not play around cars? So many variables go into this situation that it would be hard to definitively say “it was the driver’s fault”…but it wasn’t the CAR’S fault for sure.

    If you are going to operate a vehicle you need to learn how to do it properly. More “safety” equipment makes people less likely to pay attention and drive carefully.

    Truly, the safety of the car is in the hands of the driver.

  41. pentamom December 22, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    EricS it’s true that most accidents (and the word doesn’t only mean things that are beyond people’s control) are caused by human error. However, humans are fallible, and so saying that it is the result of an error is not the same thing as saying that it is entirely preventable. People make mistake, people commit inattention — we do it constantly, it’s just that it’s usually not in dangerous situations, and even more rarely in dangerous situations where our inattention creates a bad outcome.

    So I’m not saying people shouldn’t be responsible, I’m just saying that a certain level of “mistake making” is built into the system of human existence, to the extent that it’s just as valid to call something an accident that’s a result of an unintentional minor mistake, as something that happened despite everyone involved performing perfectly up to their own abilities. And I believe that’s what Lenore means by the idea that some tragedies are not preventable — it’s not reasonable to expect to structure everything in society so that no mistakes happen.

  42. Janelle December 22, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    Thank you so much for this sight. I was a free ranger and raised my kids the same way and we all survived and are better people for it!

  43. Sky December 22, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    “WHAM, we neeeeeeed to have an Explorer for saaaaafety because everyone knows that you die instantly if you dare to leave your driveway in a sedan. It’s nutsI”

    I think most people choose it for space, not safety. Given car and booster and back seat requirements, it’s nearly impossible to lug around more than two kids under 8 in a sedan. Those legally required car and booster seats take up room – 3’s a tight fit in the back seat of most sedans even without such seats – and kids aren’t allowed in the front seat anymore.

    I am one of the few moms of more than one child I know who still drives a sedan, but I certainly haven’t come in contact with any “circles” who consider it “tantamount to child abuse.” But it gets me out of carpool for field trips – where would I put them?

    It is true that in an accident, that other woman’s Explorer is going to fare better than my sedan. On the other hand, I know myself – and I’m more likely to get into an accident in the first place driving an Explorer than driving a sedan. Of course – I can’t take any of my kids’ friends anywhere – not because their parents think my sedan unsafe – but because I have nowhere to legally put them.

  44. pentamom December 22, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    Sky, what you didn’t mention expressly but what might also lead to people buying bigger cars upon having kids is that they expect to do just that — go on more outings involving other kids, carpooling, and whatnot. Sure, you don’t do that with babies, but some people expect to keep their cars for several years so the expectation of a child just might coincide with their expectation that they’re going to get a lot of use out of a larger vehicle over the next several years.

    Besides, there’s all that gear — long road trips now require more gear, making a sedan with three people (one in a car seat) plus luggage for a vacation a tight fit.

    But there are no doubt people such as those described, who think that having a kid requires them to get a tank for “safety” reasons.

  45. Donna December 22, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    Sky, that would explain buying an SUV with a 3rd pregnancy. I’ve known many who traded in a perfectly good, recent model sedan at the 1st hints of the 1st pregnancy.

  46. spacefall December 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Please don’t buy an SUV if you’re expecting more children than your car can handle. Momish Vans are OK, but SUVs are possibly the most dangerous vehicles on the road. I have seen even top of the line models with two wheels off the road just taking a gentle corner! The roll-rate is staggering. (And if you simply must buy one, really, really do your research. Don’t assume they are safe just because they’re massive.)

  47. Grimalkin December 24, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Yet another problem that FreeRange would actually be a solution to!

    Let’s say that cameras will prevent a few deaths/injuries/crushed bikes. You know what else would accomplish this? Driving less.

    That’s right – by letting our kids walk to school, we’re improving safety! Fewer cars on the road (and moving near parking spots) means fewer opportunities for injury.

    And as others have said – buying cars that are appropriately-sized for one’s family, rather than these honkers I see on the road every day.