Posts Tagged ‘IIHS’

Are Car Seats Getting Any Easier to Install?

September 17th, 2012 by AAA

One decade after LATCH mandate, AAA finds misuse prevails

Erin Stepp(WASHINGTON, September 17, 2012 )– Installing a car seat correctly is no easy task.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly three out of four car seats are not properly installed. Despite technologies, such as Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH), aimed at simplifying the car seat installation process, many parents are still missing the mark.  AAA’s recent survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to inspect and properly install car seats, reveals that LATCH misuse is cause for concern.  Nearly three quarters of CPSTs surveyed observe parents misusing the LATCH system more than half of the time.

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“While strides have been made to make car seats easier to use, the overwhelming majority of car seats are still not installed properly,” cautioned Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager, Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “AAA reminds parents to protect their most precious cargo by having their car seat installations inspected by a professional.”

LATCH has been required in nearly all vehicles and car seats since September 2002 and is touted as a user-friendly alternative to the seat belt.  According to NHTSA, 75 percent of parents with experience installing car seats using both methods prefer LATCH.  Despite this preference, LATCH does not guarantee a perfect installation; a recent IIHS survey revealed that only 13 percent of parent volunteers were able to use correctly use LATCH to install car seats.

The top misuses reported by CPSTs in the AAA recent survey:

Using LATCH in the rear-center seating position when not permitted by the vehicle manufacturer.

Safety experts have long promoted the rear-center seat as the safest seating position for children. However, in an IIHS study of 2010-11 model year vehicles, only 7 of the 98 top-selling vehicles supported LATCH use in the rear-center seat. Many parents make the mistake of using the inner anchor for each outboard seat to install a car seat in the center seat using LATCH.  If the vehicle does not support a LATCH installation in the rear-center seat, use a seat belt to secure the car seat, or move the car seat to an outboard seat. Be sure to always consult the vehicle owner’s manual before installing a car seat in any vehicle.

Using both the seatbelt AND the LATCH system to install the car seat.

While parents may think using both the seat belt and the LATCH system will provide additional protection, the opposite may be true.  In the event of a crash, belts are designed to expand and absorb crash forces.  If both systems are used, the crash forces may be distributed improperly, resulting in injury or death. Unless both the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat manufacturer’s manual approve using both methods together, select either the seatbelt or the LATCH system.

Using the wrong belt path with the LATCH attachments to install the car seat.

Convertible car seats have belt paths for both rear-facing and forward-facing installations.  When installing the car seat, consult the car seat manufacturer’s instructions to determine which belt path to use.  Selecting the incorrect belt path will leave the seat improperly secured.

AAA’s recent survey also revealed that installation “difficulties” go beyond choosing which installation method to use.  CPSTs have reported well-intentioned parents using all types of everyday items, from bungee cords and plywood to zip ties and shoe laces to secure car seats. “Not only do these common items interfere with proper installation,” warned Huebner-Davidson, “but they can become projectiles in the event of a crash.”

Proper installation of a car seat provides children with the best protection in a crash.  Consulting an expert can be critical to ensuring that children are secured in the safest manner possible. Experts are available to help parents with their car seat installation by visiting your local AAA club, or calling 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243). For additional information on AAA’s child passenger safety resources for parents and caregivers, visit

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at


With more new car choices than ever, AAA helps simplify the process for consumers to find and finance the ‘right’ car for their lifestyle and budget 

ORLANDO,Fla., (March 28, 2012) – Buying a new vehicle takes time, research and eventually money.  So when the occasion comes to purchase a new car, it’s not a choice that should be made lightly. To help consumers, AAA offers a checklist of factors to consider when looking for the ‘right’ new car.

“Today’s consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to picking a new vehicle, but that also means the selection process can be much more difficult,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “There are numerous factors to consider, many of which take place long before a buyer ever hits a car lot.”

When shopping for a new vehicle, AAA recommends the following:

  • Determine What Is Affordable. Before considering any specific makes or models, sit down with the household budget and determine what is affordable before visiting a car lot. AAA’s financial services experts advise that no more than 15 percent to 20 percent of your total monthly budget should go to all car-related expenses. Consider the value of your trade-in and how much cash you want to put towards the vehicle purchase. Consult with an insurance agent to get a rough estimate of premiums on the type of vehicle being considered. AAA insurance agents can be located at
  • Evaluate Driving Habits. Take a realistic look at how the vehicle will be used. What types of trips will it be used for most frequently? How many passengers will the vehicle need to carry? How long of a commute will it need to accommodate? Will the vehicle be driven on the highway? Will you need extra cargo space?
  • List Needed Features (Current and Future). Make a list of all required features the new vehicle should include, being careful to separate ‘wants’ from ‘needs.’ How much seating? How much cargo? Minimum fuel economy? When making the list, think about needs today and those several years down the road. Could children be in the future? Could the commute lengthen?
  • Consider Depreciation Costs. The biggest yearly expense to new cars is depreciation. Research how much the models being considered depreciate within the first few years and consider a model that has a track record of holding its value longer. The new AAA Auto Buying Tools App can assist consumers shopping for a new vehicle by providing all of the information they need to make an educated decision by visiting or by downloading the AAA Auto Buying Tools app from the iTunes App Store. The app can build the car you want, including options and available incentives, while viewing pricing information, crash safety ratings, AAA reviews, images and more.
  • New or New to You. Look at pricing options for both new vehicles, as well as models that are one to two years old. There are benefits to both new and slightly used models. New vehicles typically come with longer warranties, buying incentives from the automaker, the latest features and are widely available. Slightly used vehicles might offer a price break, but it can be more difficult to find the ‘perfect’ vehicle with the exact features a buyer is seeking and does not have buying incentives from the manufacturer.
  • Review Warranty and Maintenance Costs. Review the length of the warranty of vehicles being considered and exactly what it covers. Investigate the maintenance costs associated with the car by reviewing its recommended maintenance schedule and calculating new costs of regularly needed maintenance items. If the buyer consistently uses the same repair shop, ask how the cost of maintaining the new vehicle will compare with the current vehicle.  AAA Approved Auto Repair shops are located across North America and are excellent sources of trusted maintenance information.  The nearest shop can be located by visiting
  • Investigate Safety Ratings and Features. Check the safety ratings of all models under consideration from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Evaluate the safety features available on each model. If using a car seat for a child, check the accessibility to the vehicle’s LATCH system and the ease of installing a child passenger safety seat.
  • Seek Recommendations and Reviews. Ask friends, family and colleagues for feedback on their vehicles. Read professional reviews provided by AAA’s Auto Buying experts at, and feedback from current owners of the models being considered. These can often be found on web forums.
  • Don’t Limit Choice to One Vehicle. Narrow the choices to two or three vehicles that meet all the criteria, but do not narrow it down to only one. By allowing flexibility, buyers have more negotiating room and a better chance of finding the best possible price.
  • Financing is Key. AAA financial services experts advise that consumers gain a distinct advantage in the car buying process by arriving at the dealership with financing in hand.  Carefully and thoroughly shop loan options and available interest rates in advance. Inching down a loan’s interest rate even a percentage point or two can save hundreds of dollars over the life of the car loan.  Match the length of the loan to the length of ownership.  Select your loan term based on how long you plan to own the vehicle and make sure your loan has no prepayment penalty.

AAA can help consumers save for major purchases like buying a new vehicle.  Building a sound savings strategy is the best way to prepare for the future and different savings options offer different benefits to help you reach your goals.  AAA members can learn more at

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

Erin Stepp

Revised recommendations prompt one third of parents to make changes.

WASHINGTON (March 21, 2012) –On the one year anniversary of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) updated car seat recommendations, a AAA survey reveals that outreach efforts are working and parents are getting the message. Over ninety percent of parents with a child under 13 reported being aware of the new guidelines, many having heard of the change from their child’s pediatrician.

By advising parents to keep toddlers rear-facing until age two, or until reaching the maximum height and weight for the seat, and recommending that older children between eight and 12 remain in a belt-positioning booster seat until 4 feet 9 inches tall, the AAP reinforced what safety groups had long advocated. According to AAA’s survey, parents heeded the group’s advice, with one in three (35 percent) changing the way their children under 13 ride in the car.

“It’s encouraging to find that many parents are aware of the recommendations and are taking these safety interventions seriously,” said Jill Ingrassia, managing director, AAA Government Relations and Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Parents are getting the message that moving a child to the next step prematurely is actually a downgrade in safety.  Children should remain in their car or booster seat until they outgrow it.”

According to AAA’s survey, when parents with a child under two were asked why they had not made a change based on the new recommendations, 82 percent reported no change was needed as they were already meeting or exceeding the new guidelines. Other reasons commonly cited included parents reporting their child was uncomfortable or unwilling to sit rear-facing, parents’ reluctance to return a child to a rear-facing position after “graduating” to a forward-facing seat and the belief that the new recommendations were unnecessary.

With car seat manufacturers offering a wide array of car seats designed to accommodate larger toddlers in a rear-facing position, AAA reminds parents that the safety benefits of keeping children rear-facing far outweigh the convenience of a forward-facing seat.  Studies show that children are five times less likely to be injured in a crash when they are properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat.

Surveyed parents of older children offered similar answers. Of those who did not adopt changes based on the new recommendations, 77 percent reported their child was already meeting or exceeding guidelines. Other reasons cited for not making a change included the belief that the recommendations were too strict, their unwillingness to return their child to a booster seat after “graduating” to seat belt and concern over whether the child’s friends also used a booster seat.

“Seat belts are designed for adults and do not typically fit children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall,” warned Ingrassia. “Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash.”   

AAA developed a series of informational videos in which experts walk parents step-by-step through the new car seat and booster seat guidelines as well as proper seat belt use. With three out of four child safety seats not properly installed, consulting an expert can be critical to ensure that children are secured in the safest manner possible. Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to help parents with their car seat installation through local AAA offices, by visiting or calling 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243).

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

WASHINGTON, D.C. , September 28, 2010

Troy GreenIt is not realistic to expect that simply enacting a law to ban texting while driving will have a large, immediate impact on crash totals in a state in the first months.

Well established safety research suggests changing dangerous behavior takes well written laws, strong public outreach, high-visibility enforcement, substantial penalties for violations and adequate time. The Insurance Institute analysis makes clear more attention should be devoted to this extremely hazardous, and all-too common driving behavior.

Strong laws must be viewed as an important starting point in addressing deadly driving behavior like texting while driving. The pioneering states that enacted child safety seat, seat belt, and drunk driving laws in past decades did not see crash totals plummet in the first months after the laws took effect. Yet these safety measures have since been adopted nationwide and gone on to save thousands of lives. It took time to develop effective public outreach campaigns, visible enforcement strategies, and properly crafted legislation to realize their undisputed life-saving benefits.

We need policymakers to provide more resources, not less, to attack the problem of distracted driving from all angles – including but not limited to strong laws banning the practice.


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