How is the RideSafer safe and legal when these are not... - Safe Ride 4 Kids

How is the RideSafer safe and legal when these are not…

RideSafer safe vs illegal

There have been illegal “car seats” for sale that you have to be watchful for but… the RideSafer is not one of them.

The RideSafer is a safe and legal and certified to US federal standards (FMVSS 213).

In recent years, car seat experts have made parents aware of the “child safety seat” or “booster seats” being sold on sites like Amazon or eBay and advertised on Facebook that are not safe to use or legal to use in the US as a child restraint. Often times these “car seats” are from unknown foreign manufacturers and don’t say anything about meeting federal motor vehicle standards (specifically FMVSS 213).

We applaud this effort to inform parents of potentially dangerous products but we suspect it has created some confusion in the marketplace. We have had some well-intentioned people even make comments about the RideSafer on our social media platforms like: “It’s not safe” or “It’s not legal.”  These comments are simply untrue.

It’s possible these individuals have never heard of or done their homework on the RideSafer or its manufacturer, Safe Traffic Systems, and they seem to have inaccurately lumped the RideSafer vests into this unsafe and illegal category of products. 

So what is the difference then?

illegal child safety seats

If you look at the products claiming to be child restraints, some of these restraints use the seat belt to restrain the system and expect the cloth system to restrain the child. Some don’t even use the seat belt at all; these use their own straps to wrap the seat.

4/17/17 Please note: For a while we couldn’t find these, at least on their original listings on Amazon, but they seem to be back with a vengeance from various other places and advertised a lot on Facebook.

While the companies selling these are saying they are safe and meet ECE standards based on third party ISO 9001 testing, ECE car seat standards (specifically ECE R44/04) require a child be elevated so obviously this in incorrect information. Also ISO 9001 testing is an international standard that specifies quality management; it has nothing to do with car seat standards or testing.

The crash energy involved in restraining a child is extreme, even in a minor crash. The formula we teach parents is speed x weight = amount of force needed to restrain. A 30 pound child in a 30 mile per hour crash would put over 900 pounds of force in the restraint harness to prevent that child from flying through the windshield, not to mention the other injuries that may occur. Just fabric will not hold up to that amount of force.

As you can see in this video, it’s not effective as a car seat.

(video courtesy of Surrey County Council & Britax)

You can read more information about these seats — how they work and why they are not safe —, certification and legal labeling requirements (which these seats don’t meet) on CarSeatBlog.com.

So is the RideSafer safe?

Take a look at a similar view of a crash test with the RideSafer, a child restraint certified to FMVSS 213.

So now you may be asking, “OK, but how can this little vest keep my child as safe as a big bulky car seat or booster seat?”

All reports of real-life crashes proclaim the RideSafer performs great and kept their child safe.  (You can find some of these parents’ reviews in the old model reviews.) There have been no recalls since its inception in 2004.

RideSafer safe

Car accidents can be tragic and we as parents want to keep our kids as safe as possible. So here is what makes the RideSafer different than these other devices — and better than a booster, we think —: 

  • RideSafer uses the seat belt to restrain the child.
  • There is an internal harness system in the vest (more visible now with the new model) which is made of webbing similar to a seat belt (but wider and with padding to absorb more crash energy).
  • The vest positions a vehicle’s seat belt on your child so it moves with him, maintaining proper belt positioning throughout the ride.
  • The lap guides keep the lap belt going across the hips, protecting precious internal organs.
  • RideSafer travel car seatThe shoulder guide which safely holds the shoulder belt in place, away from the neck, ensuring your child feels comfortable and secured. (The vest removes his desire to tuck the belt behind his back or under his arm, an unsafe practice that often happens with a backless booster.)
  • By keeping your child low and further back in the vehicle seat, Ride Safer improves how well a child experiences crash energy and reduces head and knee injuries.
  • Its innovative energy-absorbing padding means crash energy will spread across a wider area.
  • This revolutionary “car seat” has been crash tested as a harness restraint and meets — mostly exceeds — all U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 213) crash test requirements.

The RideSafer® Travel Vest can give you peace of mind with its impressive crash performance. (Additional crash test numbers and videos can be viewed here.)

The RideSafer has been available in the U.S. since 2004. Marketed primarily as solution for children with special needs in the beginning, the vest has only caught the attention of more parents as a solution for travel, 3 across or carpooling in the very recent years.

We want to know, what did you think when you first heard about the RideSafer? Share your comments below.

By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004

Copyright 2016 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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16 Comments
  • Connie
    Posted at 15:56h, 21 September Reply

    Look at the way the neck snaps in the video. I don’t think it looks safe to me. Also the dummy here looks like a big kid, has it been tested for smaller kids who just met the 30 lb limit?

    • Amie
      Posted at 21:59h, 21 September Reply

      Yes, the RideSafer has been crash tested with a 3 year old crash test dummy which is what allows it to be certified starting with that range. Yes, that is what happens when a child is forward facing and why remaining rear-facing is so much safer. It would be safer for everyone in the vehicle, adults included. But at some point, because of the way cars are designed, we have to turn around.

      Have you seen the booster seat crash test video as a comparison? You can view that here: https://saferide4kids.com/product/ridesafer-travel-vest/#safety

      • Michelle Le Grand
        Posted at 22:19h, 30 July Reply

        If there a government website that lists this product as meeting the FMVS certifications. I tried to research it but the ones I found does not list RideSafer.

        Thanks

        • Amie
          Posted at 22:27h, 30 July Reply

          I’ve never found a list of all currently certified child restraints on NHTSA or any other government website. The RideSafer has been on the market since 2004 (believe it or not). I’ve been a train child passenger safety technician since 2004 and our instructors have been sharing about the alternative child restraint called a RideSafer at least since my update refresher course back in 2006. There are CPS sites/communities like Car Seats for the Littles or Car-Seat.org that you can ask about the RideSafer. The RideSafer itself is labeled per NHTSA requirements for federally approved child restraints.

  • Brit Martín
    Posted at 15:08h, 10 March Reply

    Are there options for 2.5 year olds?

    • Amie
      Posted at 12:16h, 12 March Reply

      The safest option for a 2.5 year old is a convertible car seat rear facing. If you are looking for options for traveling, what we recommend (and what we did for our children when they were that age) is to buy an inexpensive, lightweight convertible car seat to travel with. Car Seats for the Littles offers a list of lightweight car seat options here.

  • bee bomb
    Posted at 02:01h, 14 March Reply

    what makes it different from other harnesses?

    • Amie
      Posted at 09:29h, 14 March Reply

      1. The RideSafer actually has an internal harness like the harness straps of a traditional car seat.
      2. The RideSafer has been crash tested to meet or exceed FMVSS213 federal standards for car seat safety and is a certified child restraint.
      3. The seat belt goes in front of the child to restrain the child with clips to keep the seat belt properly positioned. In many of these other vests, the seat belt gets attached in the back so the vest is supposed to be doing all the restraining but with crash forces the cloth (again not a harness) of these other vests tears and the child comes out as shown in the video.

  • Carol
    Posted at 02:49h, 17 March Reply

    So the ridesafe is legal in all states and a 3yr old and up just sets in the reg seat while using it? Not in a booster or car seat?

    • Amie
      Posted at 11:20h, 17 March Reply

      Hi Carol, The RideSafer is a certified, federally approved child restraint and legal in most states (a few states require a child be “elevated”, in some of these there is language that still allows for the RideSafer, see our car seat laws by state for specific states). The RideSafer is designed to be used by itself with the child in the vehicle seat. Being lower and further back in the seat shows benefits during a crash. For those few states that require a child be elevated the manufacturer designed a super lightweight booster that can be used with the RideSafer.

  • Martselina Phillips
    Posted at 07:57h, 26 March Reply

    This looks great, I think my only concern comparing these to full car seats is that car seats are often produced with additional side protection, in case of side collisions, t-bone accidents. How does the vest compare in these situations?

    • Amie
      Posted at 11:34h, 26 March Reply

      Hi Martselina, While obviously the RideSafer doesn’t offer side impact protection on its own, newer cars are often designed with side impact protection in the car’s safety system. NHTSA recognizes the niches the RideSafer fills and excludes harness restraints from side impact requirements. We have a post specifically about side impact protection and the RideSafer for more information.

  • Karma Halen-Amrose
    Posted at 17:34h, 16 March Reply

    Can this harness be used in a seat facing the back of the car?

    • Amie
      Posted at 16:40h, 17 March Reply

      No RideSafer is not certified for use in a rear facing vehicle seat.

  • Sara
    Posted at 08:50h, 14 June Reply

    What about the GOKIZ safety vest??

    • Amie
      Posted at 12:55h, 16 June Reply

      Hi Sara, We do not have personal experience with the GoKiz vest. It is not a certified child restraint (like the old model RideSafer 3, it is not tetherable and cannot be used with a lap-only belt so cannot be certified as a harness seat and does not elevate the child so cannot be certified as a “belt positioning booster”). Though the manufacturer says it has been tested to FMVSS 213 standards, we have not seen any videos or other results of this test.

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