Car Seats Hard to Install Because of the Company’s Design

Apr 12, 2012 03:17 PM EDT

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Child in a car

Child in a car (Photo : General Motors)

Child car seats are hard to install because of the car company not paying attention to the standards, according to a Thursday’s report from an insurance institute.

The new study was released from the joint research of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) is supposedly designed to easily install child restraints in vehicles by standardizing attachment hardware, but only 21 cars were are following the standards among 98 top–selling 2010-2011 models.

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“Sometimes parents blame themselves when they struggle with LATCH, but oftentimes the problem lies with the vehicle, not the user,” said Anne McCartt, the Institute’s senior vice president for research.

Researchers have identified depth, clearance, and force to be the three factors associated with correct lower anchor use. According to the study, the lower anchors should be located less than 3/4 inch deep and should be visible, have a clearance angle of 54 degrees for each access, and should be installable using no more than 40 lb of force.

“These are things that automakers can do to improve child restraint installations, and most of them aren't hard,” McCartt said. "Lower anchors can be designed so they are easy to use."

The study has found that the safety belt or other objects interfered with the anchor in a lot of cases, and only 36 of the 98 vehicles had the anchor visible. In other cases, parents had to dig around in the cushions to find them.

Here is a list, according to the study, to have met all of the easy installation criteria from the 2011 models:
     * Audi A4 Quattro
     * Cadillac Escalade
     * Chevrolet Equinox LT
     * Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
     * Chevrolet Suburban LT
     * Chevrolet Tahoe LS
     * Chrysler Town & Country (2010)
     * Dodge Caliber Mainstreet
     * Dodge Grand Caravan Crew
     * Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab
     * Ford Escape XLT
     * Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab
     * GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab SLE
     * Honda Pilot EX-L
     * Kia Sedona LX

And the list that did not meet any:
     * Buick Enclave CX
     * Chevrolet Impala LT
     * Dodge Avenger Express
     * Ford Flex SEL
     * Ford Taurus Limited
     * Hyundai Sonata Limited
     * Toyota Sienna XLE

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