A study comes to the hardly surprising conclusion that parents are still confused by child safety seats.
The new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that too many parents are still not properly using the new safety LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) technology designed to better secure child safety seats to vehicles because of a lack of education about the system and how to use it.
"LATCH was supposed to simplify child safety seat installation for parents and this study shows that isn't happening." said NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason.
LATCH is an installation system that was created to standardize the way child safety seats are attached to vehicles without having to use a seat belt. It consists of two lower attachments and an upper tether on a child safety seat that anchors and connects with lower anchors and a top tether built into a vehicle's back seat.
When it became fully effective in September 2002, the agency had hoped LATCH would make child safety seats easier for parents to use.
But the survey found that 40 percent of parents still rely on the vehicles' seat belts when installing their car seat. It also indicated many parents are unaware of the existence of or the importance of the tethers when securing the seat to the vehicle and only 55 percent of parents using the top tether.
Nason said that as a result of the study, she intends to convene a meeting early next year of auto manufacturers, car seat manufacturers, retailers and consumer activists to discuss ways to make the safety system more efficient.
"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."