LATCH Working Group Recommendations
For those who have been frustrated due to lack of consistent labeling of tether and lower anchorages, there is good news. A voluntary agreement among vehicle and CR manufacturers has been made for improved labeling beginning in 2010. This breakthrough was officially reported in a letter from the LATCH Working Group (WG) to NHTSA Acting Administrator David Kelly in December 2008.
The WG letter expands on its presentations at the 2008 Lifesavers and KIM conferences and on news previously reported in SRN. The LATCH WG has been working on LATCH issues since mid-2006. The group is comprised of members of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. Its recommendations and initiatives are voluntary, but are likely to be followed broadly by members of both industries.
Improved labeling of LATCH anchors and attachments
Vehicle and CR manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to uniformly use the icons already required by Transport Canada (TC) for labeling LATCH anchors and attachments and used in many models.*
CR attachment hardware: All will be labeled by or before January 1, 2010.
Vehicle anchor hardware: Icons will be used to identify anchors in circumstances listed below, phased in following this schedule:
• September 1, 2010, for newly designed vehicles produced for sale in the U.S.
• September 1, 2012, for all vehicles produced for sale in the U.S.
Tether anchor (TA) labels will be used when:
• The TA is under a cover.
• The TA is visible but another vehicle feature that does not meet TA requirments of FMVSS 225 (e.g., a cargo tie-down) and to which a tether could be attach is also within reach of a 1.6 meter (63 inch) strap extended from the seat bight over the seatback to the TA.
• The TA is farther away than a 1.6 meter strap extended from the seat bight over the seatback to the TA.
Lower anchor labels will be used when: the anchors are not visible (as defined in FMVSS 225).
Use of both LATCH anchorages and the lap-shoulder belt simultaneously
Recommendations differ depending on these scenarios:
• Use of lower or tether anchors with a belt-positioning booster, when allowed by the booster manufacturer, is considered appropriate when the LATCH attachments are properly aligned between the seat belt anchors, so there is no interference with proper positioning of the lap-shoulder belt. Maximum LATCH anchor weight limits would not apply, since the LATCH anchors are only restraining the booster.
• LATCH installation with the seat belt wrapped around the entire CR and child, not through the belt path, is considered significant misuse.
• LATCH installation with the addition of the seat belt through the correct belt path is not recommended generally. Some vehicle manufacturers, however, do allow attaching the seat belt loosely through the belt path or buckling it before installing the CR. If both the CR and vehicle manufacturers specifically permit the use of both simultaneously, it is acceptable.
Use of LATCH in center rear with inboard anchors
The LATCH WG general recommendation is that center seat installation with LATCH should only be done in designated LATCH positions, unless there is explicit permission from both the vehicle and CR manufacturer allowing installation with LATCH hardware in non-designated LATCH positions, there is no more than one CR LATCH connector attached to an anchor, and there is no contact or obstruction of seat belts being used in the outboard positions.
• Manufacturers are being surveyed regarding the length of tether straps and locations of tether anchors to determine whether changes in locations or strap lengths are appropriate.
• LATCH anchorage load limits are being assessed with a newly designed test instrument that should be able to accurately measure forces on LATCH systems in dynamic tests. Testing is expected to be done this spring.
STATUS UPDATE: Joint Industry Working Group on LATCH, letter to David Kelly, Acting Adminstrator, NHTSA, Dec. 4, 2008
© Safe Ride News, January/February 2009