With each new year, there are additional state laws for traffic and highway safety enacted. National laws that apply across the United States as a whole are also put into action. One example is the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, or LATCH, car seat rule, which goes into effect in February 2014.
In 2002, LATCH rules were enforced in order to provide better protection for infants and children in car seats. Instead of using the seatbelt inside the vehicle, this system allows for easier installation and improved securement.
However, the lower anchors are structured for a combined weight limit of 65 pounds, including the child and the seat itself. Once this limit is exceeded, instead of using the LATCH system, the vehicle’s seatbelt secures the child. The reason for these limits is that the anchors may fail if the weight is greater than 65 pounds.
However, parents and caregivers aren’t always aware of these weight limits. So starting in February, new labeling will help to clarify how a child’s weight can impact the length of time LATCH is used and when it would be necessary to switch to the vehicle’s seatbelt.
With these new rules, labeling on car seats must indicate the maximum weight of a child that can use LATCH. For some consumers, it could mean a shortened time period in using it, particularly with heavier car seats. They typically range between 15 and 33 pounds.
So if a car seat were to weigh 15 pounds, the maximum weight of a child would be 50 pounds. For a car seat that weighs 25 pounds, the maximum would be a 40-pound child and for a car seat that weighs 33 pounds, the maximum weight for a child would be just 32 pounds.
Some experts believe this is taking a step down in safety because it may cause some parents to switch to a booster seat earlier if a child can only use the LATCH for a limited time period. Instead, they would like to see improvements made in the anchors so they could withstand higher weight limits.
If your child was injured in a car accident because of a faulty car seat or other product defect, then Gacovino, Lake & Associates can help. We handle product liability claims against negligent manufacturers as well as stores that stock recalled products. You can read more about other products that endanger children on our blog; for instance, the IKEA wall-mounted lamp that acts as a strangulation hazard for infants.