Car Designs Hinder Child Safety Seat Installation
Every parent who has taken their child in another person's car knows that child safety seats can be hard to properly install in a strange car. It's not you, it's the car that has the problem, according to an insurance industry research group.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that just 21 of the top 98 selling vehicles in 2010 and 2011 have seat designs that are simple to use with child restraints. The auto industry supposedly has tried to make it easier to install the safety seats with the system called LATCH, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. However, the manufacturers haven't properly incorporated the LATCH system into the design of passenger seats, according to the insurance trade group.
Thirty-six volunteers tested the vehicles. Each volunteer was asked to install three styles of child restraints in three vehicles. All participants had previous knowledge of child seats in their own vehicles. If they had issues with the instillation, they were allowed to consult owners' manuals but could receive no other assistance. According to the insurance group, only thirteen percent of the volunteers could install child safety seats with lower anchors and top tethers to get a tight secure fit at the right angle.
The research found that the lower anchors used in attaching the restraint systems were usually set too deep in the seats to be readily accessible. The lower anchors that are used to secure the child safety seat to the vehicle were visible in just 36 of the 98 vehicles studied. Moreover, the insurance group found that seat belt buckles, bolstering and other upholstery features made proper securing of the restraint system more difficult. Finally, the designs of the automobile passenger seats usually required the volunteers to make too big an effort to properly attach child seat hardware to the lower anchors.