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Part 1: New Car Seat Regulations and Proper Safety Seat Installation

Steve Wagner

New federal regulations are warning car seat users to not use the LATCH safety system once their child and the seat weigh a combined 65 lbs or more.

This relatively new system on car seats stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, and is a quick snap system that makes it simpler to safely install car seats with the seat hooks in most newer cars. The only problem with this system is that it fails after a certain amount of weight is placed on it. New recommendations are stating that owners should consult their user manuals for the weight of their seats, and then combine that with the weight of their child. If the weight of the child and the car seat together are 65 lbs or higher, it is no longer safe to use the LATCH system. Instead, use the car’s seat belt to properly install the car seat.

Each car seat is installed differently, and the owner’s manual should be consulted for individual seats to make sure the seat is installed correctly and the child occupying the seat will be kept safe. If you are unsure of how to install your car seat, or even if you think you have done it correctly, but you would like someone to double check your work (you can never be too safe when it comes to your child!), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a database of locations with professional car seat installation technicians who are ready to help you with all of your installation questions!

A few quick tips for when you are installing your car seat:

  • Never use both the LATCH system and the seat belt. More restraints do not make the seat safer. These seats are safety tested for one or the other, not both. Installing them with both can put too much restraint on the seat, and it will not absorb the shock of an impact as well, and will likely place more of the shock on the child occupying the seat.
  • Remember that rear-facing is safer! It certainly may not be the normal thing for older children to rear-face in their seats, but statistically, it is much safer. Most 5-point harness seats have weight and height limits that allow for children to rear-face until three or four years of age. Rear facing reduces the likelihood of injury by as much as 500% (8 children injured or killed out of 100, as opposed to 40 children injured or killed out of 100 in forward facing crashes).
  • Never in the front seat! Car seats are not designed to ride in the front seat, and passenger airbags pose a deadly threat to little ones in the front seat! The back seat is always safer!

If your car seat is installed correctly and fails to operate properly in the event of a crash, you may be in need of our Product Liability Lawyers. Sometimes children are injured in spite of a correctly installed car seat, and if your child was injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another person, give the car accident and product liability lawyers at Wagner Reese a call to schedule a free consultation.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our car seat blog series, on Tips for Buckling a Child into a Car Seat.

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