Joe Doyle, Justus, Secretary discussed on Freakonomics Radio


Kids who weren't restrained at all definitely suffered the consequences. Car seats versus seatbelts. The comparison between Children's car seats and Children aged 2 to 6 who are wearing adult seat belts. No matter how I slice it, I never was able to find any benefit of the car seats in terms of preventing either death or serious entry. Although it is true that in a second paper I wrote with Joe Doyle from M I t. We did find that. Child car seats are about 25% better at preventing the least serious kinds of injuries in car crashes. These papers were published in 2005 and 2006. I was encouraged to see that a couple author's name Jones and See, Bart wrote a piece in 2017, where they just tried to replicate and extend the first paper starting from scratch and extending the day to the next 10 years in both the existing sample and in the future sample they found Exactly similar results. Could it really be that adult seatbelts performed Justus well as child car seats in preventing serious injury and death, even though they're not size for Children. One way to check would be to look at the research done with crash test dummies. In fact, every time a car seat wants to get government approval, it's required that they go through a series of crash tests and passed with a minimum threshold of safety and various kinds of impacts. And so I want to look in that literature expecting to find that there had been lots of research done comparing child car seats to adult seatbelts for Children in a controlled circumstance with Crash test dummies. And what I discovered is that there were literally none. This was around the time the Levitan I published our first Freakonomics book. By now we were writing a monthly column for the New York Times Magazine. So we thought it might be a good idea for that column to run our own experiment using crash test dummies. What I thought was really incredible when we decided to go and actually put some Crash test dummies on seats and strapped him into adult seatbelts and see what happened in the crashes was the reaction of the crash test sites to do in this. You were there, not me. You wanted to tell that story? Yeah, this truth, So it was kind of a two step amazement. Number one was it was really, really hard to find a crash test facility that would agree to do this as it was explained to us over and over again. All our business comes from the car seat manufacturers. There's no good in proving that car seats are not better than seat belts, and then some would say that they weren't set up to do that. But that seemed a little bit odd. Because in order to do a bit of a car seat crash, you need seatbelts. Finally, then we found a lab that was willing to do it. The caveat was that we were not allowed to identify them by name or where they were. I will say that I flew there and it was really interesting because the guy running the lab was a scientist. And he said, I was really intrigued by this question, because it's something I would really like to know. And I think it's good for the science. So I had bought a couple of different size and brands of new car seats, and we start to hook them up and the technician who was installing the crash test dummies. In the seat belts didn't want to do it. There were actually two Dummies, one that represented a three year old child with all these wires to measure the impact of the crash. And the other six year old dummy child. And the reason he didn't want to do it is he was so sure, but the seatbelt would fail and that the crash would like break. His dummy. So then I had to sign. Yet Another indemnification form was on the hook for all kinds of indemnification in case something went wrong. If this wasn't standard testing, and then we ran the tests. And the data from the crash test basically came to the conclusion that the seatbelt had done pretty close to, if not as good a job as the car seat and in fact, if you would just submitted the data From the crash where the crash test dummy was in a seat belt alone. That would have easily passed the requirements for it to have been a car. See, even though it was actually just a seatbelt, and I don't know if you remember, but they were so shocked by the results that they thought there must be a mistake. And they actually ran it over because they thought that something had gone wrong for the seat belt have done so well. Yeah, that's right now. We wrote up the results of these tests and your academic research in our times common level. How would you describe the reception to the news We delivered about car seats, I would say somewhere between complete hatred and not even noticing. I mean, my favorite story is when The secretary of transportation at the time, Ray LaHood came across our work and what he writes in his blogged is quote if you want to slice up the data to be provocative have at it. As a grandfather and a secretary of an agency whose number one mission is safety. I don't have that luxury. I mean, it's like what the heck is only job is to keep people safe. And when evidence comes out that maybe the policies that his department has been pushing for the last 20 years are not keeping people safe. And he has a staff of statisticians who have literally nothing else to do accepted. Look at the agency if it's keeping people safe. It's amazing to me that the response isn't Hey, Let's go show that these quacks are completely wrong or, you know, let's actually try to get to the truth, but just to be dismissive of it, because it doesn't fit with what they've been doing for 20 years. It was really discouraging. Now the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Some officials there after we published these findings in New York Times, wrote a letter to the editor is said Our research consistently shows that child safety seats and booster seats significantly lower the risk of serious injury compared to seat belt alone. They go on to say that your recommendations to rethink car seat laws are quote, irresponsible and dangerous. So.

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