Parents of many children ages 3 and up who should still be in child-safety seats will be warned not to use a federally required child-seat attachment system when a new rule takes effect in early 2014.
The rule requires child-seat makers to tell parents not to use the lower anchors required in cars since 2001 if children and their car seats have a combined weight of 65 pounds, because the strength of the anchors cannot be guaranteed.
Child seats typically weigh 15 to 33 pounds. So the new rule means some children as light as 32 pounds might not be able to use a system designed to make child seats easier to install and, therefore, safer. This child-seat system is known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children).
Joseph Colella, one of five child-safety advocates who petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the rule, says the anchor requirements are based on old child seats and outdated recommendations on how long kids should be in child seats.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers sought the change in the rule because limits weren’t factoring in how much seats weigh. Colella says carmakers aren’t able to guarantee the safety of heavier kids given the strength of LATCH anchors. The alliance was not available for comment.
The advocates say the minimum strength requirements should be increased.