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The Child Safety Anchors in Your Car Might Not Be Very Safe

Brand new parents worry about everything. They worry about what their child eats, what she wears and what she plays with. New parents worry about Johnny’s first runny nose and overreact at his first fever. Saving for college, germs and the birds and the bees top the list, too. What most new parents do not realize is there are hidden worries too.

Things we have been told are safe for are children are often not. Cases abound where a product has been tested and retested and deemed safe for child exposure only to prove dangerous later on down the line. Case in point: child auto accident restraint systems.

Without proper restraint, infants and toddlers are tossed about inside the car, resulting in injury. While new parents usually know they need a safe and up-to-date infant car seat, they may not realize the actual system used to bolt the car seat into the car is insufficient. 

In 2014 we will see new warnings from the federal government advising parents not to secure their children to specific in-car anchor systems although they were specifically designed for that purpose. New data has shown the LATCH type of anchor system, a requirement in passenger vehicles since 2001, does not adequately secure child safety seats in specific situations. 

The specific problem is if a child and the safety seat collectively weigh 65 pounds or more, the LATCH type anchor systems to do not properly secure the car seat. Most child safety seats weigh in at nearly 35 pounds. That doesn’t give a whole lot of room for a child, especially a toddler. Children as light as 30 pounds could be at risk for serious injury if using these anchor systems.

Since 2001, when the recommendations for the LATCH system were made, more modern car seats have been designed and further data on car seat safety uncovered. There are also new recommendations about how long kids should stay in child safety restraint seats. 

Car still awareness is devastatingly low. Surveys show only 30% of parents know the correct way to strap in the car seat model they have purchased. The American Association of pediatrics recommends taking free community classes on child safety seats and fully reading the instructions with each seat. There are several online videos that instruct parents on proper use and installation. The academy also recommends car seats with harnesses through the age of eight. 

These warnings and other awareness initiatives has prompted car seat manufacturers to consider their current designs in relation to children over 65 pounds.  More suitable car seats for heavier children have been designed in rising numbers.

The system was originally designed to help parents. Its goal was to make car seat installation easier and stronger. Advancing technology has caused the system to become obsolete. The focus now must be on awareness and precautions to ensure the highest level of safety possible for children on the roads.