“Car seat installation with LATCH is still complicated. We have just as much possibility for misuse as we do with seat belt systems.”
AAA - car seats
Are manufacturers changing?
Huebner-Davidson indicated that hope may be on the horizon. But first, federal standards will have to change and then vehicle manufacturers will need to work to implement the new standards.
“The issue is with the spacing of the anchors in the back seat and the seats themselves are reinforced differently,” said Huebner-Davidson. “We should start to see increased amounts of vehicles with additional LATCH seating positions. The government only requires that vehicle manufacturers place two seating locations in the back seat that can use LATCH. That’s why we see the two outboard seating positions. The government also requires top tethers all the way across the back in three locations.
“Vehicle manufactures will have to reinforce the seats differently, look at how they can offset some of the anchors to be able to have enough space in that center seating position – because a lot of times that center seat is a bit more narrow than what we need for a car seat.”
Recommendations for parents
In the meantime, Huebner-Davidson offers the following advice for parents.
- ”The biggest thing for parents is to understand that it’s not as easy as click-click, you’re done. I recommend they be very careful. Read the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat instructions.
- “We also have car seat technicians across U.S. that can help them look at the instructions, where the best place is to place the car seat in the vehicle, and show them how to safely do it. The techs will walk parents through it, show them how to use both systems (LATCH or seat belt), ask them about who else they transport in their cars, to make sure that everything is as perfect as possible.”
The car seat check is free at AAA locations and takes an average of 15 minutes per seat. Some vehicles have two or three car seats. It can take up to 45 minutes if it’s a really difficult situation or the parents have a lot of questions.
Parents can go to seatcheck.org or NHTSA.gov to find fitting stations. There are also law enforcement offices that do car seat checks, SAFEKIDS, hospitals, fire rescue. A few places do charge for appointments, but there’s usually a note if they do charge for it.