Rules that were originally meant to keep child passengers safe in automobiles are now being reevaluated.
In 2001, a law went into effect that required vehicles to come equipped with a lower anchor that could be used by parents to strap children into their safety seats. This system, known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), was meant to make installation easier and kids safer.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and various other safety advocates have now successfully petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to alter previous guidelines. Not only were the requirements of the anchors based off of outdated child size guidelines, but bigger kids could endanger the viability of the devices. Anchors are only meant to hold up to 65 pounds, but since seats themselves can weigh up to 33 pounds, even fairly small children could be put at risk when strapped in via this method.
In 2014, parents will be advised by car seat manufacturers to not use the lower tethers if that aforementioned weight limit is reached. Early reports suggests using the LATCH system has already fallen out of favor with many. Safe Kids Worldwide commissioned a study which showed LATCH only got used 30% of the time.
With LATCH on the decline, it’s important to note that a seat belt can provide the same function as the lower anchor system. Seat belts are a safe alternative that all parents should consider.