LATCH system too confusing says NHTSA

scatterbunny

New member
NHTSA 14-06
Friday, December 22, 2006

LATCH Child Safety Seat System Confusing Says NHTSA Study

Too many parents are still not properly using the new safety LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) technology designed to better secure child safety seats to vehicles because of a lack of education about the system and how to use it according to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released today.

“LATCH was supposed to simplify child safety seat installation for parents and this study shows that isn’t happening.” said NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason.

When it became fully effective in September 2002, the Agency had hoped LATCH would make child safety seats easier for parents to use. LATCH is an installation system that was created to standardize the way child safety seats are attached to vehicles without having to use a seat belt. LATCH consists of two lower attachments and an upper tether on a child safety seat that anchors and connects with lower anchors and a top tether built into a vehicle’s back seat.

The survey found that 40 percent of parents still rely on the vehicles’ seat belts when installing their car seat. It also indicated many parents are unaware of the existence of or the importance of the tethers when securing the seat to the vehicle and only 55 percent of parents using the top tether.

Administrator Nason said as a result that she intends to bring LATCH stakeholders, the auto manufacturers, the car seat manufacturers, the retailers and the consumer activists, together early next year to discuss ways to make the safety system more efficient.

“LATCH is an effective way to keep children restrained in a vehicle and safe in the event of a crash, and parents need to be better educated about it” said Nason. “We need to find a way to make the devices better known and easier to use”.

Details of the LATCH survey can be found HERE.
 
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Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Thanks for posting the link. I got as far as skimming the report to page 35 so far (it's over 100+ pages, quite the tome, lol). On page 35, it states that 69 out of 353 observed LATCH installed seats were also installed with the seatbelt simultaneously, oy. This is almost 20% (69/353 * 100) of the seats observed in the study. The study observations were made in 2005, before the Kyle Miller YouTube video. I wonder what the rate would be for both LATCH + seatbelt misuse if a similar study were conducted now? I'm guessing it would be higher than 20% if the study were conducted again now, given the impact of the Kyle Miller YouTube video.
 

scatterbunny

New member
I haven't had the time to read the report yet, dh's family is coming in a few hours for an early Christmas and we have a ton of things to do, still. :p

The high number using both seatbelt and LATCH isn't surprising, but you're right, I'm sure that number is even higher since the Kyle Miller video.

I'm interested in the number using LATCH beyond the weight limit (of the vehicle), too. Although that would have to take into account tether use beyond the weight limit, I suppose...and we all know that the general consensus is that it's safer to use the tether than not to use the tether, even going against the weight limit. I doubt NHTSA breaks it down further, to who is using just the lower anchors beyond the weight limit and who is using the whole system beyond the weight limit.
 

UlrikeDG

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
The survey found that 40 percent of parents still rely on the vehicles’ seat belts when installing their car seat.

*raises hand* Here. I use the seatbelt most of the time, because it's faster and easier. Oh, and because the weight limit on lower anchors is so low that I couldn't install Eva's seat with LATCH even if I wanted to.
 

LuvBug

New member
yeah I prefer the seatbelt over latch. I only use latch when I am in a hurry or cant achieve a good install with the seatbelt. I also use the seatbelt most because latch isnt available in the middle in most of the vehicles Ive installed in. I am not going to read the study now, but I wonder out of that many participants, how many had them installed in the center and had center hooks available. That would be a key point to observe since if they dont have center hooks available but they want the seat in the middle they are going to bypass the lower latch all together(or use it incorrectly assuming it is ok to use the 2 inner most together).

OFF TOPIC: I think one study they should do is pull random people off the street that have never installed a carseat, give them a basic carseat and a vehicle seat with latch and have them install it. Then see what they do lol! That would be interesting to watch.
 

Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Same here. In two cars full of lower LATCH anchors for nearly every rear seating position (Sienna and a Saturn), most of our seats are installed with seatbelts, either because it was easier to get a super car rocking tight installation (for the Regents), or because the spacing of the LATCH anchors more toward the center of the back seat made it impossible to install the Regent and Marathon side by side in DH's Saturn. I could install the MA RF outboard next to the Regent in the center of the Saturn only if both seats were installed with the seatbelt.

Page 35 of the study says that out of 27 seats installed using LATCH anchors not designated for the seating position, 26 seats were improperly installed in a center-rear position.
 

UlrikeDG

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
OFF TOPIC: I think one study they should do is pull random people off the street that have never installed a carseat, give them a basic carseat and a vehicle seat with latch and have them install it. Then see what they do lol! That would be interesting to watch.
This is something I've always planned to do "when I win the lottery." :D I want to do a variety of situations. Like: Parents are brought into a "store" with a variety of seats. They have to pick a "good" one for their own child(ren) and then install it/them in their own vehicle(s). I'd love to compile misuse rates for seats as well ease of use ratings for seats (and see if there's a difference of opinion between techs & parents). Of course, I also want to run crash tests and publish the results, and compile real world crash data for carseat effectiveness.

And, I want a pony. :p
 

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