Car seats - NHTSAEnlarge Photo
Car seats are heavier than ever--and some parents aren't including that weight when they fit their kids and car seats to LATCH systems. As a result, many have exceeded their car's LATCH limits without even knowing it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued its final rules on Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and for LATCH-installed car seats, and confusion has been one outcome.
In short, the NHTSA final rule revises guidelines to include both the weight of the child and the car seat itself. This is a departure from current guidance that only accounts for the child’s weight.
With the new guidance, parents and caregivers may not be taking the added weight into consideration--and as a result, may be jeopardizing the safety of their children.
A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs)--the folks certified to check and help educate parents on proper car seat installation--found that 86 percent of these technicians have encountered LATCH weight limits that exceed recommendations. Nearly one in five technicians reported seeing this often.“In the event of a crash, exceeded weight limits may cause the lower anchors and tether to perform improperly, leaving children vulnerable to injury or death,” warns Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Research & Advocacy.
“Clear labeling is a step in the right direction, but standardization of equipment and proper education of caregivers remain the priority.”
Other AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey highlights include:
Car seats - Dad install, NHTSA
Car seats - Dad install, NHTSAEnlarge Photo
Tips for parents/caregivers
Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager, AAA’s Traffic Safety Advocacy, offers the following tips for parents and caregivers in trying to navigate or make sense of the final NHTSA rules on LATCH.