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Thursday, January 04, 2007

LATCH Child Safety Seat System Not Being Effectively Used

NHTSA Study Reveals Lack of Education About the System and How to Use It

According to a new study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most parents are still not correctly employing the new safety LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) technology created to most effectively fasten child safety seats to automobiles.

NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason said, "LATCH was supposed to simplify child safety seat installation for parents and this study shows that isn’t happening."

LATCH is an installation system designed so that there would be a standard way to attach a child safety seat to a vehicle without employing a seat belt. The LATCH system is comprised of a top tether and lower anchors built into a vehicle's back seat that connects with two lower attachments and an upper tether on a child safety seat.

The Agency anticipated that LATCH would make it easier for parents to use child safety seats when it became fully operative in September 2002. Yet 40 percent of parents still employ the vehicles' seat belts when mounting their child safety seat, according to the NHTSA survey. Only 55 percent of parents using the top tether, indicating that almost half the parents surveyed are unaware of the existence of or the importance of the tethers when securing the seat to the vehicle.

As a result of these findings, Administrator Nason intends to assemble LATCH stakeholders, car seat manufacturers, automakers, retailers and consumer activists in early 2007 to confer ways to optimize the safety system's efficiency.

"LATCH is an effective way to keep children restrained in a vehicle and safe in the event of a crash, and parents need to be better educated about it," said Nason. "We need to find a way to make the devices better known and easier to use."

Driver education helps increase driving safety awareness and ensures the well being of American drivers. The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.

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Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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