Child Seats Too Hard to Install, Automakers to Blame Says IIHS Study

Child Seats Too Hard to Install, Automakers to Blame Says IIHS Study
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It’s been a decade since the federal government required that all passenger vehicles have the LATCH system for car seats – and most parents still can’t figure out how it works.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), parents who want to keep their kids safe are finding it difficult to properly install child restraints in vehicles using the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH for short). If you’ve cursed under your breath trying to figure out how it works, you can thank the automakers for your frustration. A report released by the IIHS and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute states that automakers design seats in ways that make LATCH difficult to use.

“Installing a child restraint isn’t always as simple as a couple of clicks and you’re done,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. “Sometimes parents blame themselves when they struggle with LATCH, but oftentimes the problem lies with the vehicle, not the user.”

This report drew its findings from a test of 98 top-selling 2010-11 model passenger vehicles that found only 21 have LATCH designs that are easy to use. Out of the 98, only seven had LATCH anchors in the middle of the second-row seats, which are deemed the safest place for children to travel. Researchers identified three factors associated with correct lower anchor use: depth, clearance and force.

Required in all passenger vehicles since the 2003 model year, the LATCH system was created to increase the number of children who ride properly restrained by making child restraints easier to install. From the results of this study, it’s clear that the system needs more work to become more parent-friendly.

Do you have issues installing child restraints using the LATCH system? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And you can check out a list of vehicles and how they ranked after the jump.

2011 models that meet all 3 easy-installation criteria:

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 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Mercedes-Benz C300 Mercedes-Benz E350 Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe GS Mitsubishi Lancer ES Toyota Tacoma extended cab

2011 models that don’t meet any easy-installation criteria:

Buick Enclave CX Chevrolet Impala LT Dodge Avenger Express Ford Flex SEL Ford Taurus Limited Hyundai Sonata Limited Toyota Sienna XLE