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How I got +4" of extra room with a rear facing infant car seat!

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Old 10-30-2012, 06:09 PM   #21
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Well I think that is about he has to say about that.
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Old 10-30-2012, 09:55 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
This is a very interesting (and creative) solution. I am a Child Passenger Safety Technician, a parent of two (4 and 6), and owner of a 06 DC. I've used many seats from infant seats to rear facing covertibles to forward facing seats and boosters in my back seat.

OP, I'm not going blast you or anything like that, I just would like you to consider some sublties of your solution that you may have not considered. I always belive that having as much information from the right sources help us make the best decisions for our children, even if the end decisions are different. Being informed is the best tool a parent can have.


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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Child Restraints have been designed to pass all the requirements of FMVSS 213 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Child Restraint Systems) to ensure protection of your child should you be in a crash - The standard is not perfect, and there are some shortcomings IMO regarding some of the test procedures, but it is what the carseat manufacturers meet and how they define the limits and liabilty of their seats. These tests were done on a bench seat with a vehicle back. Deviations from the manufacturer instructions is misuse of the seat and will release the manufacturer of any liability if you are in a crash and your child gets hurt or killed because the seat did not perform as expected.

Regarding law, CA is a proper use state, meaning that legaly you can be cited for misuse because you are not using your carseat according to manufacture instructions. Probably unlikely, however if you get pulled over, the lack of a vehicle seat back and presence of a carseat might give the officer cause to look closer and see that you have done something non standard. If the officer knows his stuff, this could be a steep ticket.
I'm going to disagree with you a little bit here. I'm still using the car seat as a car seat, therefore the modification I made to the truck does not constitute misuse of the car seat. Using the car seat to transport a 50 lb. bag of concrete however would be misuse since it was not designed for that purpose.

Also, I've read what California law says on the subject and I don't think I'm outside the limits of the law, maybe border-lined up against it. But really it depends on how you interpret the law. Here is what CA Vehicle code 27360 actually states: "27360. (a) Except as provided in Section 27363 a parent, legal guardian, or driver shall not transport on a highway in a motor vehicle, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (3) of Section 27315, a child or ward who is under eight years of age, without properly securing that child in a rear seat in an appropriate child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards."

I understand that it could be argued that by removing the seat back I'm not meeting the federal standards, but I honestly, think the seat back has little to do with it really. The seat belt system restraint still does in fact work, and furthermore, the front passenger seat is 1/4" from the rear facing car seat. It's got no where to go!

Additionally, I've read the law and If somehow some Highway Patrolman did not like my setup and I were to be fined, the fine is $100. Look it up, C.V.C. 27360.6. I think you may be confusing the C.V.C section on compliance which has much more serious fines for retailers or commercial installers. Honestly, I think I got a better chance of winning the lotto.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Removing the seat back gives a similar situation to what the tacoma extended cabs have with respect to being in close proximity to the rear panel and window. In a crash, you are correct that the primary impact is in the forward direction, what we would be concerned with is the change in dynamics on rebound. On rebound the carseat will pivot at the seatbelt and the entire system will "coccoon" towards the back window. You have changed this pivot point and also changed the density of the base - since part is rolled blanket, the other is softer vehicle seat. The soft seat acts as an energy damper to dissapate the kinetic energy of the rebound. Would a harder surface like the rolled blanket transfer more energy to the seat and then to your child? Something to consider...however, as long as your child is strapped tightly with the harness in the correct position, the tall seat sides should protect your child from impact on rebound just fine.
Very interesting point. I'll look into this and see if there is something more that can be done to potentially mitigate this issue.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
The technical "misuse" in your solution, specific for the Chicco that you have are:
-use of tightly rolled towels- a rolled towel is only allowed for a baseless install using the seat belt to adjust the recline angle of the carseat. Chicco does not allow noodles or rolled towels for adjusting angle for base installs. Other brands of infant seats do allow rolled towels or noodles under their bases, just not Chicco.
Good to note. You'll notice in my example I put a towel under the seat bottom and not the seat base itself. The rolled blanket is simply filling a void.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
-not using the lockoff - by moving the base 4 inches toward the back of the vehicle, you have created a situation where the lockoffs on the base can not work effectively. If you notice, the orange lockoffs rely on the acute rearward angle made between the shoulderbelt anchor and the lockoff wedge. You can tell in your picture that the lockoff is not fully engaged. Chicco does not permit bypassing the lockoff and using the switchable retractor (Toyota factory belt retention system) for a lap/shoulder belt installation. They require the base to be tight with the lockoff firs and then state as an option that the shoulder belt can be locked.
I'll look at this more closely, however, as I've stated above, the car seat has nowhere to go. It's blocked in by the front passenger seat 1/4" of space is all that's available. I'll post more after I inspect the lockoff.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
I'd also like to comment about re-creating lower latch connections (since they are part of the vehicle seat back). FMVSS 225, Child Restrain Anchorage is the standard that toyota has to meet with respect to LATCH. Lower anchors are required to be nominally 280mm (11 in) and have specific dimension, strength and anchorage to vehicle requirement. Many carseats do not allow non-standard lower anchorage spacing - so once again, check your manual. Some do state a range - but usually it is in reference to LATCH borrowing (using innermost lower anchors of the outboard seats) for center installs with LATCH. FYI Toyota does not allow borrowing of this kind though. I don't think your proposed solution of creating lower anchors will meet this, and again, if anything should happen, and your child gets hurt, this solution releases Toyota of any liability.
If someone were to recreate the LATCH system using aftermarket hardware, then obviously great care should be exercised in that decision to but to randomly state that it probably wont meet the standard is a little pretentious in my opinion. If anything, it could be well exceeded using the right hardware and in the right places.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
OP, once again I'm not trying to chastise or judge you I would hope that you might consider that you are potentially putting your child in a condition that has not been verified or tested by the carseat manufacturer. It is your decision as the parent to make a fully informed decision on how best to protect your child in the event of a crash.
Of course.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
The Keyfit is one of the shortest front to back infant seats currently on the market. It fits very well in small spaces. I am aware that front passenger room for tall parents is of concern especially with a rear facing seat is behind it. Many times just one click forward and a couple clicks upright of the driver or passenger seat is all that it takes to fit a seat and parent comfortably. Incidentally, once your child outgrows the infant seat and moves to a rear facing convertible (2 years minimum per current recommendations by the AAP), these tend to give more room to the front passenger despite the larger seat because they can be installed more upright and don't require the full recline.
If I wasn't clear in the OP, then it bears repeating, with the Keyfit in the back, the front passenger seat was unusable by any normally sized adult that I've ever known. Only a midget or child would fit up there!

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Anyone else, I'd be happy to answer any questions, you are welcome to PM me.
Thanks for your informative post!
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Old 11-01-2012, 03:05 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post
I'm going to disagree with you a little bit here. I'm still using the car seat as a car seat, therefore the modification I made to the truck does not constitute misuse of the car seat. Using the car seat to transport a 50 lb. bag of concrete however would be misuse since it was not designed for that purpose.

Also, I've read what California law says on the subject and I don't think I'm outside the limits of the law, maybe border-lined up against it. But really it depends on how you interpret the law. Here is what CA Vehicle code 27360 actually states: "27360. (a) Except as provided in Section 27363 a parent, legal guardian, or driver shall not transport on a highway in a motor vehicle, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (3) of Section 27315, a child or ward who is under eight years of age, without properly securing that child in a rear seat in an appropriate child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards."
Properly securing your child means using the child restraint per manufacturer instructions. I'm sure the manufacture has assumed that there is a vehicle seat back and bottom - Not too many people would remove the vehicle seat back to attempt to gain more room in this manner. To be completely sure that what you have done is acceptable - call the manufacturer. Send them these pictures - one of their engineers should be able to get back to you to give you a definite say on if this modification would compromise the ability of the carseat to protect your child in a crash.
http://www.chiccousa.com/contact-chicco.aspx


Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post
Additionally, I've read the law and If somehow some Highway Patrolman did not like my setup and I were to be fined, the fine is $100. Look it up, C.V.C. 27360.6. I think you may be confusing the C.V.C section on compliance which has much more serious fines for retailers or commercial installers. Honestly, I think I got a better chance of winning the lotto.
No we are looking at the same CVC. The fine is $100 and one point on your license. We are in California...That $100 fine will get penalty assessments added to it resulting in a fine of over $400 for the first offense. Second offense is $250 plus penalty assessments. SafetyBeltSafe USA has a handout regarding the CA law and guidance to law enforcement - You're right, you probably won't get caught, but if you do, it could be costly.
http://www.carseat.org/Legal/99_Enf.pdf

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Originally Posted by Crom View Post
Good to note. You'll notice in my example I put a towel under the seat bottom and not the seat base itself. The rolled blanket is simply filling a void.
Again, the manufacturer of your seat says nothing about creating a level surface. It says nothing about filling any voids. Just because guidance on a specific detail is absent doesn't mean approval - call the manufacturer - they have the final word.

A parent came into a seat check a couple months ago with a piece of plywood under the seat - he said that that is what he had to do to make a level surface for his deep bucket back seats. I think you would agree that this parent's solution was probably not safe. This example is a different application but similar train of thought.

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Originally Posted by Crom View Post
I'll look at this more closely, however, as I've stated above, the car seat has nowhere to go. It's blocked in by the front passenger seat 1/4" of space is all that's available. I'll post more after I inspect the lockoff.
Please do. I would be curious to see if your lockoff works well - I have had difficulties with to "forward of the bight" seat belts and the chicco lockoff not holding tight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post
If someone were to recreate the LATCH system using aftermarket hardware, then obviously great care should be exercised in that decision to but to randomly state that it probably won’t meet the standard is a little pretentious in my opinion. If anything, it could be well exceeded using the right hardware and in the right places.
You would be amazed at some of the custom lower LATCH anchors I have seen. I don't think that it is pretentious to assume that most folks that execute this "mod" of adding lower anchors have no clue about the specific testing and details that LATCH is. Most think that it is "just" a place to put those little hooks because LATCH is safer than the seat belt. This is a misconception as the LATCH standard was created to make installations easier, but lower latch does have limits - Toyota states when your child reaches 40lbs, to discontinue the use of lower latch and install with the seatbelt. In 2013, the lower latch limits will be universally 65lbs (weight of child and the carseat) - This change is being done to mitigate the confusion about weight limits of lower latch. I hope you get a chance to check out FMVSS 225 - it is a very interesting read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post
If I wasn't clear in the OP, then it bears repeating, with the Keyfit in the back, the front passenger seat was unusable by any normally sized adult that I've ever known. Only a midget or child would fit up there!
Sharing a picture of the back of my Tacoma a couple years ago...I have two large rear facing convertibles (Britax Classic Marathon and Sunshine Kids Radian) in the back seat. Both are installed using LATCH. My daughter is just about 4yo/35lbs and my son is almost 2yo/25lbs. If you look closely, you can see that my husband still has a few inches of space before his seat would be impeded by my son's convertible. Typically the Keyfit takes up the same amount of room as an upright Britax convertible.



I sure hope you aren't implying that I am a midget ....I consider myself and my husband fairly averaged sized adults.

For anyone else reading this thread....I'm pretty sure that Crom feels comfortable with this solution based on his research, but remember every carseat has different requirements and needs - look closely at what you are doing, check in with your carseat manufacuturer to make sure you aren't creating a dangerous situation, consult a SafeKids Certified Child Passenger Safety Tech...Carseats are life saving devices - we all want to protect our children from harm - especially in vehicles (car crashes are still the #1 killer of children 2-16 in this country),...but just because you can do something, doesn't always mean you should.

Thank you Crom for this engaging discussion.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Properly securing your child means using the child restraint per manufacturer instructions. I'm sure the manufacture has assumed that there is a vehicle seat back and bottom - Not too many people would remove the vehicle seat back to attempt to gain more room in this manner. To be completely sure that what you have done is acceptable - call the manufacturer. Send them these pictures - one of their engineers should be able to get back to you to give you a definite say on if this modification would compromise the ability of the carseat to protect your child in a crash.
http://www.chiccousa.com/contact-chicco.aspx
Thanks. It would be interesting to have a real dialog with someone from the company, who actually has real world experience here, but I am doubtful my efforts would be worth while. I can imagine that for legal reasons they would disapprove of my mod.

Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
No we are looking at the same CVC. The fine is $100 and one point on your license. We are in California...That $100 fine will get penalty assessments added to it resulting in a fine of over $400 for the first offense. Second offense is $250 plus penalty assessments. SafetyBeltSafe USA has a handout regarding the CA law and guidance to law enforcement - You're right, you probably won't get caught, but if you do, it could be costly.
http://www.carseat.org/Legal/99_Enf.pdf
I see. I missed that part that refers back to CVC Section 1803. So yes I agree about the point on the record, however the penal code seems clear to me that it's only a $100 fine. Much more serious is the point. The point is actually quite expensive, as it raises car insurance cost about $1,500 allocated over three years.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Again, the manufacturer of your seat says nothing about creating a level surface. It says nothing about filling any voids. Just because guidance on a specific detail is absent doesn't mean approval - call the manufacturer - they have the final word.
We disagree. What I did was mandatory which was fill the void or the mod was not going to work at all. The rolled blanket is a substitute for what was the seatback. I really get that you don't like the mod, but just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it's not going to work safely. I also get that you keep referring to the manufacturer to obtain 'approval' but I can almost see the future and because it's an untested configuration they almost will certainly not approve. Again this is for legal reasons... So in the end it's the attorneys who will have the last word.

Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
A parent came into a seat check a couple months ago with a piece of plywood under the seat - he said that that is what he had to do to make a level surface for his deep bucket back seats. I think you would agree that this parent's solution was probably not safe. This example is a different application but similar train of thought.
Next week i'm visiting an attorney who specializes in legal automotive defense
cases. I'm going to get his legal opinion on what I've done. If he says I'm outside the limits of the law, I'll reverse my mod or buy another car seat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Please do. I would be curious to see if your lockoff works well - I have had difficulties with to "forward of the bight" seat belts and the chicco lockoff not holding tight.
I did a test. I moved the front passenger seat all the way forward and set it to incline to maximize room. After properly stretching my torso and upper body I held fast on the car seat base gripped it tight and ripped it forward with about as much force as I could muster. It was a hell of a jerk, and the base moved a few inches forward. Bottom line? The seat-belt still works. I returned the passenger seat back to its original position which is 1/4" from the Chicco. It's not going anywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
You would be amazed at some of the custom lower LATCH anchors I have seen. I don't think that it is pretentious to assume that most folks that execute this "mod" of adding lower anchors have no clue about the specific testing and details that LATCH is. Most think that it is "just" a place to put those little hooks because LATCH is safer than the seat belt. This is a misconception as the LATCH standard was created to make installations easier, but lower latch does have limits - Toyota states when your child reaches 40lbs, to discontinue the use of lower latch and install with the seatbelt. In 2013, the lower latch limits will be universally 65lbs (weight of child and the carseat) - This change is being done to mitigate the confusion about weight limits of lower latch. I hope you get a chance to check out FMVSS 225 - it is a very interesting read.
I can see how some people would not or do not understand the LATCH system. However, If I were to recreate the anchor points I'd do it correctly by examining the standard and fabricating mounts that bolt to the frame. It's really not outside the realm of the possible to adhere to a written standard. That's why standards exist, so that people (manufacturers and fabricators) can follow them.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Typically the Keyfit takes up the same amount of room as an upright Britax convertible.
Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't? I think that the Chicco may take up more room than you think, or at least what's written on paper.

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Originally Posted by morninglor View Post
Thank you Crom for this engaging discussion.
You're welcome. I'll let you know what the attorney says about the mod.

Overall I remain confident that what I've done is safe otherwise I would not have done it. I am actually very much into safety. For example I carry a quality 10lb fire extinguisher in the truck at all times. I custom installed side turn signal flashers on my Tacoma two years before Toyota included them from the factory. See my thread: Side Turn Signal Repeaters / Markers Mod

You can increase the safety of your '06 by doing that mod. I've tested it for a number of years now and it works great!

Another safety mod example is that I installed Reflexite V92 DOT reflective tape in select locations inside on the door edges on my double cab--for each door. I did this to keep high visibility at night while stopped on the side of the road. While my doors are open, the tape is exposed to oncoming cars and motorists. it is simple, cheap, durable, and highly effective. Every car should come this way from the factory. I also wrote about an ABS kill switch mod I created to be used off-road becase ABS is dangerous on snow and going down steep gravely hills.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:09 PM   #25
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First off, I rather like your modification. Makes sense and seems safe from a common sense standpoint.

That said, you would fail from a legal stand point. It would go like this....

-In your vehicle owners manual, what step number is "remove the seat back"?
-The instructions for your car seat manufacturer tell you to obey all instructions from the owners manual... so did you?

I also agree that its unlikely you would get pulled and ticketed. Realistically I don't see how every law enforcement officer could argue that what you did was wrong. It is on the seat, the belt is on it, it appears secure. That is about all they can testify to.

Yes, they don't say you can't do it, but that will never fly.

My experience in this matter comes from working with an attorney named Robert Rohrbaugh. He successfully sued numerous car seat manufacturers when the car seats they built failed to do the job. He was able to prove that the seats were inadequately tested and failed when they should not have.

One thing to point out also, is that you yanking on the seat is not a valid test. The testing agencies are certified to conduct tests. The laws are written so that as long as what you have done has been tested by a certified agency and passed, then you are good. Your method has not been tested by a certified lab. So from the stand point of the laws, it can't be legal. You see how this works right?
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:14 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post
Thanks. It would be interesting to have a real dialog with someone from the company, who actually has real world experience here, but I am doubtful my efforts would be worth while. I can imagine that for legal reasons they would disapprove of my mod.


I did a test. I moved the front passenger seat all the way forward and set it to incline to maximize room. After properly stretching my torso and upper body I held fast on the car seat base gripped it tight and ripped it forward with about as much force as I could muster. It was a hell of a jerk, and the base moved a few inches forward. Bottom line? The seat-belt still works. I returned the passenger seat back to its original position which is 1/4" from the Chicco. It's not going anywhere.
I really think you should at least try to check it out with one of their engineers, not for approval necessarily, but perhaps posing this as a hypothetical question so you don't get the standard "its not in the manual so no" response...They do know the limits of their seats better than you or I. Maybe they've modeled this situation? Legalities aside, what would you do if they told you that they were uncomfortable with this configuration from an engineering perspective? Just because you expect the answer to be contrary to your idea, doesn't mean not a good idea to ask - again, this is about a device that could potentially save the life of your child.

The "test" you did didn't really check if the lockoff worked as designed. What you did was test was your emergency locking retractors in the seatbelt, which sound like they worked just fine. Just from the mention that the seat moved a few inches forward, tells me that the base was not locked and tightened properly. The principle for installing carseats is to get lap portion of the seatbelt is tight enought such that you can't move the base 1" side to side or forward to back at the belt path. The lockoff on this base captures the shoulder belt in a wedge clamp in order to keep the lap belt tight. When a base (or carseat) is installed correctly, the lap belt is pretty taught. There is a decent amount of tension in the lapbelt...not enough to yield and start stretching, but enough to couple the base to the vehicle tightly. The lockoff of the base is a pre-crash component, it holds the base in long enough for the emergency retractor to engage and lock - keeping the carseat coupled to the vehicle. Did you check to ensure tightness before your test, did you switch the retractor of the seatbelt from emergency to locking mode?
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:04 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crom View Post

Another safety mod example is that I installed Reflexite V92 DOT reflective tape in select locations inside on the door edges on my double cab--for each door. I did this to keep high visibility at night while stopped on the side of the road. While my doors are open, the tape is exposed to oncoming cars and motorists. it is simple, cheap, durable, and highly effective. Every car should come this way from the factory.
Hey, I did that with DOT C2 tape too, a just a square on each lower corner. And I have the option to use my brakes when I want as well.

As for your mod, while its creative, its not something I would do myself. The graco seats we used fit my DC pretty well, both the infant seat with base, and the convertables. They were the most compact we could find locally. It was awefully cramped in the wife's '01 corolla, but at a towering 5'2", she fit in the front passengers seat where I could not. I don't miss the rear facing days, forward facing FTW. Or ride in the bed, like we used to do, right?
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:18 PM   #28
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Cudos to Morninglor!

My wife is a CPST Instructor and I am a CPST Senior Tech. He was right on. If you pass through any state especially ours and have the set up you showed the ticket is the least of your worries. The safety of the children in the vehicle is the important thing, and Morninglor hit almost every point. I have a 4 year old forward facing and a 20 month old rear facing and yes, its tight for the wife on the passenger side, in a 2012 DCSB.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:46 PM   #30
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Crom, I am frantically searching the house for my flashdrive that shows actual testing of rear facing car seats at a 35mph crash. The crash dynamics are much more that you might believe. A 20lbs. child in a 20 mph crash causes 400lbs of force to be exhibited on the belts...this is a minimum. Weight X Speed = Force....such as if the child was in your arms....

I will find the video! I might not change your mind...but I might stop other readers from trying this mod. The video will help! In a crash the car seat will rebound towards the rear....think of this.....the force that is applied to the seatbelts, seat, harness etc.....must return...at least a portion, this rebound causes the safety seat bottom to force itself into the truck bench bottom...then return, this rebound causes the seat to travel towards the rear glass and bench back...hence....no seat back....nice hard plastic, glass, metal frame.....not safe by any sense of the imagination. Please.....bare with me readers..... I will find the video and post it!
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