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Wizards&OZ

Class A RV and Car Seats

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Doing research on Car Seats and Class A RVs. The outlook is grim! Most say to NEVER place a toddler car seat in a Class A motorhome as they say it's unsafe not only because most, if not all, Class A motorhomes do not have the LATCH system installed, and the fact that most seat belts in the dinette are more or less for looks and not fit for car seats because they're not bolted to the chassis. 

So, what are my options? Am I forced to buy a fifth wheel and travel with the car seat in a truck? Anyone else have experience with car seats installed in a Class A motorhome with good safety records?

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8 hours ago, Wizards&OZ said:

Most say to NEVER place a toddler car seat in a Class A motorhome

May I ask who "Most" is that you are listening to?

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In my limited experience MH manufacturers will stand behind the belts they installed in a vehicle, but will fight hard to prevent you from adding any additional ones.  I have a hunch (but no proof) that if you install a seatbelt in a vehicle you manufacturer then it has to comply with NHTSA/DOT rules.  One time, when we had a Class C, the manufacturer had a "kit" for adding belts to the sofa and had no hesitation about selling it to us.  But neither the manufacturer nor any RV dealer we spoke with would install it because those seating positions hadn't been properly tested and certified.

As for MH seats not having the LATCH stuff, many of us are old enough to remember when the LATCH system didn't yet exist.  Car seats could be secured even then; it sometimes took a bit of effort to secure the top tether, but it could be done in most vehicles.  

Edited by docj

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We had a Class C that had the latch system on the belts on the sofa. I don’t remember for sure, but I don’t think the dining booth seatbelts had latches. A car seat wouldn’t fit well there anyway. We did use a car seat and had no problem securing it.

Vicki

 

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Here's an informative article to read.  I definitely would not trust a car seat or anyone to think they are secure at a dinette.  Also, it's advised not to sit sideways. Forward seating is best.  I know many don't adhere to this but it only takes one accident......

https://csftl.org/rv-travel-children/

 

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10 hours ago, Kirk W said:

May I ask who "Most" is that you are listening to?

Generally speaking... the internet. If you do a Google search for "Class A RV and Car Seats," you'll find a lot of threads and websites pointing you away from using a Car Seat in an RV. Most say to have your child in separate vehicle and not in your Class A or C motorhome. 

Some people have placed car seats in the dinette, but it's frowned upon unless the seat belts are bolted to the frame. Others have put them in side-facing couch seats. But, this is even more dangerous! Others have suggested placing the car seat in the front passenger seat because it offers the most secure seat belt. But, there again, you're not supposed to place a child in a front seat of any vehicle. 

This is becoming a struggle and a bit disheartening. We were really looking forward to traveling with our son in a Class A, but with all the signs pointing away from a Car Seat in a motorhome, we aren't left with many other options. 

https://thecarseatlady.com/rvtravel/

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I am 71 years old. When I was a kid the only car seats available hooked over the back of the seat to lift a child up to where he or she could see out the window. When our daughter was an infant she traveled in her car bed; the bed was fastened into the lap belts but she was loose in the bed. As she grew she had a car seat but there was no such thing as an anchor tether. In all my years in all the places we have lived I know of no child injured in a car accident and only know of one child killed in a car accident. So, my perception is the danger is low. I would not hesitate to put a car seat in a forward facing position on an L-shaped couch or a dinette fastened down with a lap belt.

Linda Sand

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8 hours ago, sandsys said:

I am 71 years old. When I was a kid the only car seats available hooked over the back of the seat to lift a child up to where he or she could see out the window. When our daughter was an infant she traveled in her car bed; the bed was fastened into the lap belts but she was loose in the bed. As she grew she had a car seat but there was no such thing as an anchor tether. In all my years in all the places we have lived I know of no child injured in a car accident and only know of one child killed in a car accident. So, my perception is the danger is low. I would not hesitate to put a car seat in a forward facing position on an L-shaped couch or a dinette fastened down with a lap belt.

Linda Sand

I remember laying on the back deck under the rear windshield watching people tailgate us... How times change...

 

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13 hours ago, Wizards&OZ said:

Generally speaking... the internet. If you do a Google search for "Class A RV and Car Seats," you'll find a lot of threads and websites pointing you away from using a Car Seat in an RV. Most say to have your child in separate vehicle and not in your Class A or C motorhome. 

Thank you for sharing that. I asked because most of my knowledge of infant seats has come from our kids with the grandchildren. If I understand correctly, the prohibition of a car seat in the front seat of a car is due to the airbags and most class A coaches still don't have airbags, unless it has very recently changed. We owned 2 class A motorhomes and in neither one was there any connection between the seat belt anchors and the chassis but the later one did have anchors to the metal framework that supported the floor above the basement storage and that was attached to the chassis. That was true of all of the seatbelt anchors that I checked but I'm not sure that I looked at them all. In our first class A the seatbelts only attached to the wood of the floor, but it was built in 1987. Unfortunately for the RV consumer, the manufacturer's organization (RVIA) works very hard to do just enough to prevent the application of the federal highway safety laws to the RV industry and it has been pretty successful in slowing movement in that direction. 

I am only a few years older than Linda S. and well remember how skeptical most of us were when seatbelts were first put into cars. Like many drivers, I only occasionally wore them until the day that I totaled a company car and walked away only because I happened to be wearing a seatbelt. Because of that incident, I am a strong supporter of the use of infant seats properly. While nobody can eliminate all risks in life, it only makes good sense to take advantage of available safety equipment as much as reasonably possible. The fact is that risks are higher in motorized RVs than with a trailer where the people ride in a vehicle that does fall under the federal highway safety standards. 

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One option, too, is for one of you to drive the motorhome and the other drive the car with the kid in the car.  Perhaps not an ideal situation, but certainly doable and safer for the child. 

Although we don't travel with children, we do travel separately and have walkie talkies to keep in touch.

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6 hours ago, Kirk W said:

While nobody can eliminate all risks in life, it only makes good sense to take advantage of available safety equipment as much as reasonably possible.

The question then becomes what is reasonably possible. All of life is about trade-offs. If you don't have proper car seats and a cop stops you for any reason he can cite you for improper child restraints. How likely do you think that is?

As to driving separately with small children I found it hard to be a safe driver when distracted by crying. I always had to pull over and comfort the child. Hard to do when traveling in a caravan with a big rig.

Linda Sand

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