Posts Tagged ‘LATCH’

Erin SteppMajority of car seat installation experts encounter weight-related errors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2014) – A final rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced this week, revises weight-limit labeling for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)-installed car seats to include both the weight of the child and the car seat itself, unlike current guidance which only accounts for the child’s weight. Caregivers, unaware of weight limit restrictions, may be unknowingly exceeding weight limits by neglecting to factor in their child’s weight along with the increasingly-heavy car seat. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to check and educate parents on the installation of car seats, found that 85 percent of CPSTs have encountered LATCH weight limits that exceed recommendations, and nearly one in five report seeing this often.

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“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,” warned AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Research & Advocacy Jake Nelson.  “Clear labeling is a step in the right direction, but standardization of equipment and proper education of caregivers remain the priority.”

The primary purpose of LATCH, required as of 2002, was to increase the likelihood that caregivers could achieve a correct car seat installation more often than when using the seat belt.  However, according to the AAA Foundation’s survey, more than half of CPSTs report caregivers are less likely to install a child seat correctly using LATCH.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • 80.5 percent of CPSTs report that LATCH installation errors are not obvious to caregivers.
  • Nearly one-third (29.7 percent) of CPSTs feel LATCH is more complicated than it needs to be.
  • More than half (54.6 percent) of CPSTs believe LATCH needs to be improved.

In addition to the CPST survey, and to help shape federal regulations, the AAA Foundation project included an expert panel and human factors analyses of the LATCH system. The panel rated various LATCH usability issues based on the frequency that the mistakes occur and the severity of the injury potential.

RATING SEVERITY  

RATING

FREQUENCY

1

Negligible: Less than minor injury to the child.  

1

Improbable

2

Marginal: Minor injury to the child, including minor abrasions and contusions.  

2

Occasional

3

Critical: Severe injury, including broken bones, spinal damage, head injuries, internal organ damage, and/or loss of life.  

3

Frequent

 

Examples of frequent mistakes with marginal-to-critical  consequences:

  • Confusion/misinterpretation of weight limit; not factoring in weight of both car seat and child.
    • Consequence:  Lower anchors, connectors and tether may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.
    • AAA Recommendation:  At a minimum, set the lower anchor weight limit to 65 pounds for the combined weight of the child and the car seat; require standardization and clear labeling of car seat weights and limits.
  • Using LATCH in the center position of the rear seat by using inner bars of outboard lower anchors when not specified as an option by vehicle manufacturer.
    • Consequence: Lower anchors and connectors may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.
    • AAA Recommendation: Make lower anchors available in all preferred seating positions, including the rear center seat – generally the safest seating position.
  • Not securing or stowing the tether when a convertible seat is used in a rear-facing position.
    • Consequence: In a collision, the loose tether strap/hook may swing freely, injuring the child or other passengers (e.g., projectile hazard).
    • AAA Recommendation:  Manuals should emphasize need to store the tether and indicate where it should be stored.

The full research report and white paper were provided to NHTSA in December 2013.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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 AAA.com.

NHTSA LATCH Images

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, www.seatcheck.org or calling 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243). For additional information on AAA’s child passenger safety resources for parents and caregivers, visit SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com

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 AAA.com.

 

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 http://www.seatcheck.org/ 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 AAA.com.

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