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BRITAX Explains NHTSA Changes to LATCH Car Seat Installation
As you may know, the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to require new LATCH labels on all car seats starting Feb. 27, 2014, creating ongoing discussion (and confusion) regarding the system and its capacities.
Sarah Tilton, BRITAX child passenger safety advocate, on the upcoming guidelines for car seat installation using LATCH:
“BRITAX believes that a safe car seat is one that:
· Fits your child (based on weight, standing height and seated shoulder height);
· Fits your vehicle;
· Installs and can be used easily every time.
To help ensure that caregivers install car seats securely, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires most passenger vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002, to have special anchors for attaching the child seat using Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) directly to the vehicle rather than securing the child seat with the vehicle’s seat belt.
However, when parents secure their car seats using LATCH, they often don’t realize that the vehicle lower anchors have weight limits. In fact, according to a recent Safe Kids Worldwide study, 46 percent of forward-facing car seats with harnesses are incorrectly secured by way of lower anchor installation.
Most lower anchors are not designed to secure more than a combined weight of 65 pounds for both child and car seat. If the combined weight of a child and his or her car seat is more than 65 pounds, the car seat should be secured using the vehicle’s seat belt.
To help clarify these guidelines, NHTSA will require all car seats to include a statement on the warning label to indicate maximum child weight for the use of vehicle lower anchors during installation. The new labeling will provide a simple reference for caregivers who use a car seat in a vehicle that does not permit the use of lower anchors when the combined weight of the child and the car seat exceeds 65 pounds. NHTSA is expected to require these new labels starting February 27, 2014.
BRITAX recommends that parents use the following best practices when installing a car seat using the LATCH system:
· Do not use lower anchors if the combined weight of child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.
· Use the vehicle seat belt, not lower anchors (in most vehicles), when the combined weight of the child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.
· If you cannot locate a weight limit for using LATCH in the car seat user guide or vehicle owner’s manual, you should install your seat with the vehicle seat belt and top tether.
· Install the car seat with the top tether at all times, regardless of installation method (lower anchors or seat belt for forward-facing harnessed seats). Check the vehicle owner’s manual and/or car seat user guide to determine if there are weight limits for top tether usage.
· Review the car seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual, contact the car seat or vehicle manufacturer as necessary, or consult with a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) using a LATCH Manual, to determine the best method for installing the car seat. You can search for your local CPST on www.safekids.org.
ALTERNATIVE TO LATCH IN SELECT HARNESS-2-BOOSTER SEATS
One alternative to ensuring a safe and secure installation each and every time, without worrying about child and car seat weight or relying on LATCH, is the BRITAX ClickTight Installation System, found in the BRITAX FRONTIER™90 and PINNACLE™90 harness-2-booster seats. The system allows parents to install the forward-facing seat in harness mode, starting from at least 2 years of age and 25 pounds and up to 90 pounds. The technology behind the ClickTight Installation System allows parents to securely install their child’s car seat with just one ‘click.’”
An informative LATCH webinar will be offered on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST. Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/185426175