>Answers to “Mistake Monday” 4/5/10

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>ANSWERS: (please see bottom of page for teaching points on LATCH)


 Image: Forward-facing Britax Boulevard with vehicle’s shoulder/lap belt & top tether



Vehicles since model year 2003 must have lower anchors in at least TWO positions and tether anchors in at least THREE positions. This means that in most vehicles, the side seats have lower anchors AND tether anchors, while the center seat has a tether anchor but NO lower anchors.  See below for info on the few vehicles that do have lower anchors for the center seat.

This picture shows a typical back seat with the 2 pairs of lower anchors – one for each of the side seats.  The standard spacing between the lower anchors is 11 inches.  Note how the spacing between the inner most anchors is wider than 11 inches.  
***The middle in this picture – and in most vehicles – is NOT a position that has the lower anchors.

This diagram shows how variable the location for the top tether can be – always check the vehicle owners manual for details. 
An Analogy – Lower Anchor Strap:Vehicle Seat Belt as Contacts:Glasses

Lower anchors are used INSTEAD of the vehicle’s safety belt to secure the child safety seat to the vehicle.  Just like you wouldn’t wear contacts and glasses on the same day – as you would see worse rather than better – so too you don’t want to use the lower anchors AND the vehicle’s seat belt to secure the car seat.  Choose one or the other, as appropriate for the seating position where you are installing the car seat.

Note: in the future there may be a child safety seat that allows for both the lower anchors and vehicle’s seat belt to be used at the same time, but currently none allow for this or recommend it.

It’s ALWAYS BETTER WITH A TETHER (Forward-facing that is)

Tethers are used IN ADDITION to the lower anchors OR the vehicle’s safety belt to secure a forward-facing child safety seat to the vehicle.  Tethers keep a child’s brain and spinal cord much safer by decreasing how far the head moves forward – typically by 4-8 inches – which can mean the difference between the child’s head hitting something hard or not.

This picture shows a real crash test (using dummies) – where one seat was installed with a top tether and one without.  Notice how the dummy’s head moves 6 inches farther forward when the top tether isn’t used!

Which vehicles have lower anchors for the CENTER seat?
Stay tuned – I’m off to the NY Auto Show today and will update this portion soon. 

Most common LATCH mistakes:
  1. Child safety seat is installed too loosely
  2. Tether not used on a forward-facing car seat
  3. “Borrowing” the inner most lower anchors from the two side seats to secure a car seat in the center (as was shown in this week’s mistake monday picture)
  4. The lower anchor strap is not routed through the correct path on the car seat – for example, the strap may be routed through the rear-facing belt path when the seat is forward-facing.

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