A new rule that goes into effect in 2014 will require car-seat makers to warn parents NOT to use the Latch anchor system to install a car seat if the combined weight of the child and the seat is 65 pounds or higher.
The LATCH anchors (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) were designed to make child seats easier to install and have been required in vehicles since 2001, but child-safety seat advocates say the strength of the anchors can’t be guaranteed because they don’t take into account the weight of the child seat, which typically weighs 15 to 33 lbs.
In the June 6th USA Today, according to Joseph Colella, one of five child-safety advocates who petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a change to the rule, “the anchor requirements are based on old child seats and outdated recommendations on how long kids should be in child seats”.
And children are getting heavier and staying in child seats longer. Just this past year the American Academy of Pediatrics and NHTSA issued enhanced new guidelines on booster seat use for older children, recommending that children ride in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly, typically when the child is somewhere between 8-12 years old and about 4 feet 9 inches tall. Colella says “car makers aren’t able to guarantee the safety of heavier kids given the strength of LATCH anchors”. And that to me, sounds a bit risky
So what does this mean for you?
Transportation Department spokeswoman Lynda Tran told USA Today: “While Latch makes it easier to properly install car seats in vehicles, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know that securing a child seat with a seat belt is equally as safe — and that they have the flexibility to use either system.” Very good to know.
So…if you have a child that weighs around 30 lbs, double check the weight of your car seat with the manufacturer. Make sure the weight of your child + the weight of that seat does not exceed 65 lbs. And while you’re having that conversation with them, double check the weight their LATCH anchors are rated to support. And if you have any doubt – use a seat belt to secure the car seat.
In my opinion, waiting until 2014 to require car seat manufacturers to warn parents about a potentially dangerous situation is being overly “nice” to car-seat manufacturers…but when the safety of a child is even a question, “nice” should not be an option.
I’d prefer we start notifying parents today. What do you think???