Only 21 of 98 vehicles met the requirements for easy LATCH system use. Seven of the latest vehicles failed entirely in a new series of test, according from the report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. It’s been a decade since federal regulators first mandated the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, or LATCH system. This rule required manufacturers to simplify the process and make it easier for parents to be sure a safety-seat is properly installed. However, the results of the latest study are disappointing because there appears to be little progress in improving the effectiveness of child seat latch systems despite repeated warnings. In a 2004 report by the NHTSA, they found three out of four child seats and booster seats were “critically misused.” When car and booster seats aren’t used properly, it could lead to an injury.
How often do people properly install a car or booster seat?
Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research with the IIHS, which conducted the new test in cooperation with the UMTRI, warned that, “Installing a child restraint isn’t always as simple as a couple of clicks and you’re done.” The IIHS/UMTRI tests involved 36 volunteers and were asked to install three different car seats in various vehicles. Each was expected to accurately complete at least eight installations in a three-hour period. However, the volunteers completed the installation correctly only 13% of the time. McCartt added, “The problem lies with the vehicle, not the user.”
Why are they so difficult to install?
In some cases, vehicles failed because it required more than 40 pounds of force to install a seat. In others, latches were not visible or the way the factory seat was manufactured made it difficult to reach the LATCH anchors. IIHS and UMTRI found the best vehicles placed the lower child seat anchors less than three-quarters of an inch below the bight – the point at which a car seat’s back and bottom seat cushions come together.
The vehicles that passed the test
The new report concludes that parents are 19 times more likely to use the LATCH system correctly in the 21 vehicles that passed the latest test. Here’s the list of vehicles, in no particular order, covered by the IIHS/UMTRI study:
2011 models that meet all 3 easy-installation criteria
- Audi A4 Quattro
- Cadillac Escalade
- Chevrolet Equinox LT
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
- Chevrolet Suburban LT
- Chevrolet Tahoe LS
- Chrysler Town & Country (2010)
- Dodge Caliber Mainstreet
- Dodge Grand Caravan Crew
- Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab
- Ford Escape XLT
- Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab
- GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab SLE
- Honda Pilot EX-L
- Kia Sedona LX
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport
- Mercedes-Benz C300
- Mercedes-Benz E350
- Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe GS
- Mitsubishi Lancer ES
- Toyota Tacoma extended cab
If you, a friend or loved one is using a car seat, please pass this information on. You want to make sure you are properly installing a car or booster seat to make sure your child is secure. It could prevent a devastating injury or death of a young child.