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New Rules for Child Car Seats

Parents take note: the government is instituting new rules for child car seats.  Recently, the government has issued new guidelines on how to install car seats as your children approach the upper weight limit for the seat. They have also issued new side-impact crash tests for child seats.  It is estimated that close to 75% of children ride in seats that are not installed correctly.

Weight Limit Installation

Since 2002, anchors are required to be built into the bottom of all car’s rear seats to be used as part of the LATCH system (which uses anchors on the bottom of the seat as well as tethers for the upper portion).  Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started to require labels on all new child seats that explain how the LATCH system should only be used when the combined weight of the child and the seat is less than 65 pounds.  If the combined weight is over 65 pounds, the seat can still be used, but it should only be installed using the seat belt as the anchor rather than the LATCH system.

Side Impact Crash Tests

The new NHTSA side-impact crash tests are not to be perceived as a safety shortcoming for current child seats.  The new “T-Bone” tests will likely bring additional padding or wider sides for future seats.  The anticipated cost increase for these changes is only about 50 cents per seat, according to the NHTSA.  However, the increased safety is estimated to prevent approximately 5 deaths and 64 injuries per year.

What Consumers Need to Know

Parents should not be too concerned for the time being.  The NHTSA changes are being instituted under an abundance of caution, and they claim that current child seats are safe.  However, parents should always make sure that child seats are installed correctly to protect their precious cargo.  The NHTSA provides thorough guides for the proper installation of child seats as well as a free mobile application with information on car seats and other safety issues.  It is extremely important for parents to keep up to date on proper installation procedures.

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