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Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children

Car Seat Basics

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Q. I need to buy a new car seat for my child. Should I get one with LATCH? Will it work with my older car?

A. LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is a new standardized child safety seat system that will simplify child safety seat installation and enhance child safety.

Phase I of LATCH

Most passenger vehicles, manufactured after September I, 1999, are equipped with top tether anchors. All cars, minivans, and light trucks will have these anchors beginning September 2000. These anchors are required in three rear seating positions.

As of September, 1999, all new forward facing child safety seats (does not include booster seats) meet stricter head protection requirements. To meet these requirements, most seats will have a top tether strap.

What is a top tether strap?

It is an adjustable strap which is attached to the back of a child safety seat. It has a hook for securing the seat to a tether anchor found on the rear shelf area of the vehicle. In some vehicles, such as mini-vans and station wagons, the tether anchor may be found on the rear floor of the vehicle or on the back of the rear seat. A top tether strap helps limit movement of a child's head in a forward crash, further reducing the risk of injury.

Is my current seat safe?

Yes! Child safety seats manufactured before September 1, 1999, are safe when free of recalls, have not been in a crash and are installed according to manufacturers' instructions.

Will the new child safety seat fit my older vehicle?

Yes! New child safety seats can be used in older vehicles. They will have to be installed using your vehicle's safety belt system without the top tether attachment. (You may be able to install a tether anchor mounting in your older vehicle -contact your vehicle manufacturer for a tether anchor kit). These new seats must continue to meet the current requirements of the standard for head protection when tested without the tether attached.

Phase II of LATCH

Currently, some new passenger vehicles are equipped with lower child seat anchorage points between a vehicle's seat cushion and seat back. Together, the two lower anchorage points and top tether anchorage make the LATCH system. By September 1, 2002, this system will be required in two rear seating positions of all cars, minivans, and light trucks.

What is a lower anchorage?

Lower anchorageIt is a small rod or bar located between a vehicle's seat cushion and seat back allowing a child safety seat to be attached or snapped into the vehicle instead of being held secure by the vehicle's belt system.

Also, by September 1, 2002, all child safety seats will have two attachments which will connect to the vehicle's lower anchorage attachment points. (Some child seat manufacturers have included lower anchorage points in year 2000 models.)

LATCH system

Together, LATCH provides a more secure, simpler installation.

Will the new child seats (with lower attachments) fit my older vehicle?

Yes! Even though new child safety seats will have lower anchorage attachments, they will still be capable of being installed with the vehicle's seat belt system. Always follow manufacturers' instructions for child seat installation.

Reproduced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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