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What Are the Rules for Using LATCH Car Seats?

September 29, 2013


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You have followed the manufacturer’s guidelines—your car seat is snug. Even the car seat inspector was impressed with the installation. However, if you are using LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), your child may not be safe. LATCH anchors have been required in U.S. passenger vehicles since 2001. This system is designed to make it easier for parents to install car seats. However, new rules will require car seat manufacturers to warn parents against using the LATCH anchor system if the combined weight of the child and the seat is 65 or more pounds.

Why?

Current anchor requirements are based on old car seats and outdated recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends that children remain in a five-point harness until they reach the maximum height and weight limit for their seat. Since children are getting heavier and staying in car seats longer, car seats are being designed with higher and higher weight limits. There are now car seats that will hold a child who weighs 90 pounds or more. When the child’s weight is added to the car seat’s weight—15 to 33 pounds—the total may be enough to cause the LATCH anchors to fail in a car wreck.

What does this mean for you?

The rule will go onto effect in 2014, but parents of older children should not wait to switch to a seat belt installation. According to child-safety seat experts, the strength of LATCH anchors cannot be guaranteed. Following will help you to determine if you should switch to a seat belt installation:
  1. Check the manual to determine the weight of your car seat.
  2. Weigh your child.
  3. Add the two weights together. If the child and car seat weigh 65 pound or more, stop using LATCH. Follow your car seat’s guidelines for a seat belt installation.
  4. Use the top tether strap. Tethers prevent head injuries in an Atlanta car wreck and can be used without LATCH.
  5. If you have any difficulties, contact a car safety seat technician at your local fire department.
LATCH can still be used with certain booster seats. This is because the booster seat works with the car safety belt. The Atlanta car accident attorneys at Kaufman Law help car wreck victims obtain justice and compensation after a serious accident. To schedule a free consultation, contact our firm.
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