According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many parents continue to improperly use the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) technology designed to better secure child safety seats to vehicles due to a lack of education about the system. “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. LATCH is an installation system that was created to standardize the manner in which child safety seats are attached to vehicles without using a seat belt. LATCH consists of two lower attachments and an upper tether on a child safety seat that connect with lower anchors and a top tether built into a vehicle’s back seat.
LATCH became fully effective in September 2002, and NHTSA had hoped that it would make child safety seats easier for parents to use. The survey found that 40 percent of parents still rely on vehicle seat belts when installing a car seat. It also revealed that many parents are unaware of the existence or the importance of the tethers when securing the seat and that only 55 percent of parents are using the top tether.
As a result of the survey, Nason has said that she intends to bring together auto manufacturers, car seat manufacturers, retailers and consumer activists in early 2007 to discuss ways in which 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”.
For information regarding free child safety seat inspections, please call 1-866-SEAT CHECK (1-866-732-8243) or visit SeatCheck.org.