Beginning in 2014, parents of children ages 3 years and up will be warned not to use the federally required child-seat attachment system known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for Children), USA Today reports.
Car seat manufacturers will be required to alert parents not to use the lower anchors if their children and their seat have a combined weight of 65 pounds. In this case, the strength of the anchors is not fully guaranteed.
Joseph Colella was one of the five child-safety advocates that petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the rule. He argues that not only are LATCH requirements based on outdated recommendations, but carmakers are not able to guarantee the safety of heavier children based on the strength of the anchors.
Colella’s 3-year-old niece died in a 1994 crash in a seat that did not fit properly in the vehicle. According to USA Today, that prompted him in petitioning to make child seats more compatible with cars. This resulted in the federal panel that recommended LATCH.
“While LATCH makes it easier to properly install car seats in vehicles, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know that securing a child seat with a seat belt is equally as safe — and that they have the flexibility to use either system,” says Transportation Department spokeswoman Lynda Tran.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children all the way up to 8 years old use car seats with safety harnesses. Since AAP’s recommendation and supporting research, child-seat makers have been prompted to design more seats for kids 65 pounds and over.