Feds Revise Labeling for Car Seat Weight Limits To Protect Kids | Edmunds

Feds Revise Labeling for Car Seat Weight Limits To Protect Kids


Just the Facts:
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revised labeling for car seats to help reduce injuries to children caused by exceeding recommended weight limits.
  • The new labeling for car seats installed by the LATCH system makes it clear that both the child's weight and the weight of the seat itself must be taken into account.
  • Previous guidelines only stressed the weight of the child, which could lead to injuries caused by caregivers unknowingly exceeding the weight limits.

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revised labeling for car seats to help reduce injuries to children caused by exceeding recommended weight limits.

The new labeling for car seats installed by the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system makes it clear that both the child's weight and the weight of the seat itself must be taken into account. The previous guidelines only stressed the weight of the child, which could lead to injuries caused by caregivers unknowingly exceeding weight limits.

Since 2002, the LATCH system has been required equipment on almost all new passenger vehicles. Intended to increase the likelihood of correct installation of child safety seats, it uses special anchors in the vehicle, rather than seatbelts, to attach car seats.

But, according to NHTSA guidelines, if the combined weight of the child and seat exceeds 65 pounds, the lower LATCH anchors should not be used. In such cases, the car seat should be attached by the vehicle's seatbelt system.

Knowledge of the combined weight limits is critical because if they are exceeded, lower anchors, tethers and other connectors may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision. The new labeling system is intended to clarify this for caregivers.

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 85 percent of child passenger safety technicians say they have encountered LATCH weight limits that exceed guidelines. Moreover, one in five report seeing this often, and 80 percent have found that LATCH installation errors are not obvious to caregivers.

In addition to inadequate labeling, another reason for the confusion is likely that attachment systems vary between manufacturers. Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety research and advocacy for AAA, said in a statement: "Clear labeling is a step in the right direction, but standardization of equipment and proper education of caregivers remain the priority."

Edmunds says: The improved labeling should help parents and other caregivers ensure that child safety seats are installed correctly.

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