Short Grandmas and Hidden Seat Belts

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 29, 2016

Dear Car Talk:

Being a very short grandma, I have great difficulty fastening the seat belts around my grandkids in their booster seats (and previous infant car seats). That's mainly because the fastener is in the middle of the back seat and is very deeply imbedded in the seat. Why aren't the fasteners near the door side instead? It certainly would make my life much easier. Would it even be worth my while to suggest changes to car manufacturers?

-- Susan

I think you need to start a political movement, Susan. We've got Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads. I think the nation's decision-makers need to feel the heat from Short Grandmas!

They might be able to do something about how far down you have to reach into the seat crack to find the seat-belt latch. That's always an unpleasant task -- reaching down between the seat bottom and seat back to find the seat-belt connector. It's especially off-putting when you have kids, because while you don't know what you're going to find in there, you know that the list of possibilities is pretty disgusting.

I don't know why there's so little extension in those seat-belt latches. Perhaps people don't like the sloppy look of the latches flopping around all over their back seats.

But unfortunately, it's much harder to move the latches to the doors. That's because the shoulder belts themselves need to be anchored to a pillar on the door side; the tops of the shoulder belts for the two outboard passengers in the back are attached to the frame of the car. Moving them to the middle would require some structural hanging contraption to secure the shoulder belts. While it's been done, I don't think it goes over well with designers or people who have to use their rearview mirrors.

So I think the best thing to do, for the time being, is to just completely give up on maintaining your dignity. Just crawl in there, straddle the kid, do whatever you have to do so you can latch the seat belt, and don't worry about what the other people in the supermarket parking lot think. Just don't wear a short dress on the days you have the grandkids. Good luck, Susan!

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