Head Of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Didn't Know How To Properly Install A Car Seat

A Detroit News article about Nicole Nasson, head of the National High Traffic Safety Adminsitration, which oversees, among other things, child safety seat standards, reveals that until this summer, she didn’t know how to properly install a child safety seat.

In July, Nason took a three-day class on how to professionally install child safety seats…

She had her “eureka moment” when she learned she wasn’t installing her own child’s device correctly in her own car.

“I almost put it in right,” Nason said, after the instructor pointed out a latch she wasn’t using in the seat in her Honda Pilot. “Is that what that’s for? I have never used it. I have learned my lesson on child passenger safety.”

File under frightening or ironic? With tags, you can do both!

NHTSA pledges some safety actions by year-end [Detroit News via Kicking Tires]


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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    Ironic. One can be phenomenal at leadership and administration but not be the most knowledgeable person about a subject. This is why we have school principals and school teachers, and this is why the P.E. teacher should not be allowed to teach science if by “teaching” he means reading the textbook 15 minutes before class and telling students to do the same for the next class.

  2. not_seth_brundle says:

    Frightening, and makes me relieved I don’t have kids if keeping them safe is so difficult.

  3. mconfoy says:

    Yes, but she stands with the president on embryonic research.

  4. chili_dog says:

    Holy crap Batman, I just realized that I know thing about how my cars’ on-board computer works. I guess I am incapable of being an appointee within the government that oversees anything automotive in nature.

  5. CoolTri says:

    I hate the fact that people like this are the ones that tell us what to do with our kids and yet they do not even know how to do it right, or never do it for that matter.

    what hypocrites

    If she was half of a parent it would have been the first thing she looked up before bring that kid home. Hospital’s in my area won’t even let you take the kid home in the car unless they inspect the car seat first and tell you what you did wrong if you did.

  6. magic8ball says:

    News flash for Ms. Nasson: that thing in the back seat that your kid sits in while you drive? It came with instructions. Maybe you could try reading them. Just a suggestion.

  7. ElizabethD says:

    Has any of you tried to install a baby or toddler seat in a car lately? We had them for our kids, no problem. Now comes the grandbaby, and I tell ya, it took hubby and son-in-law (an architect, no less) nearly an hour to properly install the requisite seats in two cars. If I ever have to remove the carseat from my car, I’m at a loss. It *is* rocket science these days!

  8. SOhp101 says:

    It’s all about who you know, not what you know.

  9. Keter says:

    *begin sarcasm*
    Picture her trapped inside a paper sack. Does she:
    a) get on her cell phone and call AAA
    b) cry pitifully until someone with a high-school education opens the sack for her
    c) break a nail clawing at the sack and then sue the sack-maker for ruining her $1000 manicure
    d) call upon her cronies to pass laws requiring safety escapes be installed on all paper sacks, thus increasing the cost and decreasing the usability of the item by a million percent.
    *end sarcasm*

    Installing a safety seat is not rocket science. I was 19 years old with just high school and a minimum wage job when I brought my first born home…in a car seat I researched in Consumer Reports, put on layaway at K-mart when I was five months along, installed myself, and then realized that it was engineered wrong. So I added nylon straps to it. (This was before these seats were required, and the industry was largely unregulated.) A few months later, the company issued a retrofit kit with exactly those straps in it.

    Ms. Nason, if you really had to take a class in how to install a child restraint, you really should hand in your college degree and quit your job; your real “eureka moment” should be that are not qualified to run an agency that must deal with the laws of physics and the fundamental working properties of mechanical devices on a daily basis as part of its basic functioning.

  10. Johann says:

    You’re doing a heckuva job, Nicki!

  11. Roundonbothends says:

    Gee. It takes THREE DAYS now to learn how to install a child safety seat and it needs to be done PROFESSIONALLY?

    What’s WRONG with this picture?

  12. Roundonbothends says:

    Then again, who wants a career in professionally installing child safety seats?

  13. kenposan says:

    @MissJ: MissJ said it best. One does not need to be an expert to run the show. They hire other experts for that. Do we expect that she should know how to pave a highway? Should we expect her to know the composition of the asphalt? How about we expect her to know every…nevermind.

  14. chili_dog says:

    My lord people are all of you completely unaware that the appointees at the top rarely know much about the minute details of the department they run, thats what career civil service managers are for.

    Who cares if she isn’t as competent at installing a car seat as the local firemen because those same firemen are probly incompetent at running a huge federal department.

    And while I’m on it, and seeing how this is a piece designed to point out yet another incompetent Bush administration official, how is this any different then Hillary making proclamations about “knowing” that socialized medicine is what America needs.

  15. SmoovyG says:

    File under : Fucked Up. It’s not that difficult for a person of any intelligence to install a car seat properly if you just read the directions.This is just sad…

  16. HalOfBorg says:

    @Keter: And, as ELIZABETHD said – car seats are harder to install NOW – not back when you were 19. And yeh – read the instructions, I don’t expect her to know all details of every brand of carseat – but she SHOULD have known how to install her own.

    And I suppose I never did anything wrong, either.

  17. ablestmage says:

    It’s the job of customer service of the car seat manufacturer to know how to install a car seat, not the administrator for a national regulatory commission — her job is obscenely more complicated and involves sifting through lawbooks and administering legal forces against ne’er-do-wells — it has nothing to do with actual car seats. That’s like demanding the president of the US know how to disassemble a gun. That’s not what he needs to be concerned with.

  18. Something like 95% of them are installed wrong, and something like 80% of them remain installed wrong after people take the classes on how to do it right.

    They’re virtually impossible to install properly on purpose. Whenever the seat makers get sued after an accident in which a child is horrifically injured because of car seat failure (as many of them are fairly useless piles of shit that don’t provide any meaningful protection, or only protect children in a particular kind of crash), the manufacturer’s defense is, “They installed the car seat wrong.” And it almost always works because the seat is almost always installed wrong and, after all, they offer free classes to parents on how to do it right!

    If they made the seats simple to install, they’d have to make them actually safe and find a way to price at least some of them within the reach of poorer consumers who are still required by law to have them, recall the vast numbers that are shit (do you know how many get recalled every year?), and actually face extremely expensive lawsuits for the children who die or are permanently injured when they’re inadequately protected in accidents by poorly-made carseats. Or sometimes by the carseats themselves, which fall to pieces in the accident and do far more damage than the accident itself.

    Not that I have strong opinions on the topic or anything. :)

  19. ElizabethD says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:
    Cynical, but intriguing theory. You gotta wonder.

  20. mackjaz says:

    I am a certified car seat tech. It took four grueling days to get my certification. I just got back from a four hour drop-in clinic where only one out of twenty-five seats was installed correctly – and that was a simple booster, which is pretty much impossible to install wrong.

    eyebrowsmcgee has an angle I never thought about, but is probably partly true. Me and the other techs sat around bitching about how seats are not getting easier, they’re getting harder. This is where government should step in and regulate.

    Now that Ms. Nasson has seen first-hand how bad it is, she should start screaming at whoever she can. If she doesn’t, she is either incompetent, uncaring or a Bush appointee.

  21. BrockBrockman says:

    This story sounds like an urban myth, but I’m too lazy to search Snopes.

  22. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    In other news, the head of NASA doesn’t know how to fly the shuttle. (And, having just looked at the Wikipedia page on child car seats, I think that the comparison is surprisingly apt.)