New Rule Will Change Your Child Seat Requirements: Here’s What You Need to Know

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump
Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

In 2014 a new rule will be put into effect that requires child-seat makers to tell parents not to use their lower anchors if children and their car seats have a combined weight of 65 pounds. The rule is an amendment made to the 2001 rule which said that kids 65 pounds and up still needed to be in their car seats. So, why the change? According to the experts, if your tot and his car seat are heavier than 65 pounds the strength of the car seat anchors cannot be guaranteed.

The new rule means that kids as light as 32 pounds may not be able to use the LATCH system (which is designed to make child seats easier to install and safer) because the anchor requirements are based on old child seats and outdated recommendations on how long kids really need to be in car seats. Joseph Colella, a child-safety advocate who was part of the petition laid out by four other child-safety advocates, petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the rule because “carmakers aren’t able to guarantee the safety of heavier kids given the strength of LATCH anchors.” The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers also wanted to change the outdated rules because the limits weren’t factoring in how much car seats weigh.

What is LATCH? Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. And though for some, it’s a preferred method, use and awareness among parents is pretty low. Last summer, USAToday.com reports that a study led by Safe Kids Worldwide found that child-seat checkpoint technicians were using the lower anchors to attach seats only 30 percent of the time, and only 30 percent of parents were actually using their top tether straps. Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department said, “While LATCH makes it easier to properly install car seats in vehicles, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know that securing a child seat with a seat belt is equally as safe — and that they have the flexibility to use either system.”

It’s clear that when the new regulations take effect, better awareness and training need to be done in order to prevent injuries in children.

Do you think people need more training on proper car seat and child seat installation?

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Buy a Car Seat

Safe Car Seat Installation Tips?

Car Seat Safety 101