In the past couple of years, the introduction of such LA adjusters as Evenflo’s EasyClick and Graco’s EZ Tight is an encouraging sign that NHTSA’s requirements for LA attachment weight limits have not squelched CR manufacturers’ interest in innovating to improve LATCH ease of use. Now that five years have passed since the regulation went into effect, it is a fitting time to reflect on how the regulation has affected CR types, in general.
All CPSTs have been trained in how to use a belt-shortening clip (BSC), the heavy-duty device that holds webbing so that a CR can be installed using a lap belt with an ELR retractor. However, few CPSTs have used one outside of certification training because, of course, vehicles with belts that require this device are now old—and, even back in the 1980s and ‘90s, such belt systems were not particularly common.
Still, it is good for CPSTs to know how to identify situations that require a belt-shortening clip and how to help a parent use one, if needed. The situation might be rare, but if a CPST encounters a child who is riding in a vehicle so old as to need a BSC, then the vehicle is also lacking other modern safety features. In such a vehicle, tight installation is even more critical.
All vehicle models with belts that require a BSC for CRs were made prior to September 1995, the date that the lockability requirement went into effect. In those older cars, a BSC is needed when a seat belt has a sewn-on (nonsliding) latchplate and an emergency-locking retractor on the lap portion of the belt that cannot be switched to automatic locking mode. Seat belts that require a BSC for CR installation are often lap-only belts, but some are lap-shoulder belts (in which case, the retractor with only ELR mode is the one that spools the lap portion of the belt).
Using a particular technique, the user threads a BSC onto webbing to hold a loop of slack, leaving the unlooped segment of webbing—when entirely pulled out of the retractor spool—at the proper length to tightly install the CR. This skill is taught during certification training, and a demonstration video at www.cpsboard.org provides a review.
As CPSTs are taught during certification training, a BSC is not a regular locking clip. To hold webbing in a crash, a BSC must be a bit larger and stronger than a regular locking clip, so a regular locking clip should never be used as a substitute. While CPSTs don’t need to have as many BSCs in their kits as regular locking clips, they should keep one or two on hand or, at least, know where to acquire one. Technicians may not realize it, but the LATCH Manual always contains information on BSCs and their part numbers. (In the new 2019 edition, this information is on page 14 as part of coverage of situations in which LATCH can’t be used. For the past several editions, the listing of manufacturers that supply BSCs for those who need them includes:
- Ford: Part number F03Z-5461248-A
- GM: Part number 94844571
- Toyota: Part number 73119-22010
Use these part numbers for ordering BSCs, as well as verifying that a clip you have is actually a BSC (and not a regular locking clip). The number appears on packaging and is often stamped onto the BSC.
While it is always ideal for add-on parts to be of the same make as the vehicle, a BSC from a Ford, GM, or Toyota brand can be used in a vehicle from a different manufacturer, if needed. However, GM and Toyota have indicated that their supply of BSCs is almost depleted, and therefore most dealers may not be able to supply them. Ford, however, does have some inventory available through two third-party vendors, and for the 2019 LATCH Manual, Ford asked that SRN list the websites for these vendors among the Ford brand bullets (page B-71). Through these vendors, the clips are essentially free ($0.01), but shipping and taxes apply:
To find a BSC on either of these sites, be sure to search the Ford part number given above (rather than entering just a product description) in order to ensure acquiring the correct part.
As the use of BSCs in CPS has become increasingly uncommon, the emphasis on the BSC skill in the certification curriculum has shrunk as well. With a curriculum revision expected sometime in 2019, it remains to be seen how CPS training will handle this topic in the future.
This guest article for Safe Ride News was contributed by Lorrie Walker, Training and Technical Advisor of Safe Kids Worldwide.
Safe Kids Worldwide convened a Blue Ribbon Panel that met in April 2018 to highlight the need to address the safety of child occupants in autonomous vehicles (AVs). For this discussion, the panel defined “child” as one who is under age 13. Read More from “Consider Children in Autonomous Vehicles”
Documentation is a must when checking CRs, but paper checkup forms use resources, take up storage space, and don’t lend themselves well to data aggregation and analysis. Since many CPSTs now have access to a smartphone, laptop, and/or tablet, the time may be right to consider a digital alternative.
Safe Ride News Publications is pleased to bring you this brand new website, as of August 2018. The address remains the same—www.saferidenews.com—but the look, layout, and some functionality have been revised. We hope that the CPS community will like our refreshed look and find it easier to access information.
Most exciting is the addition of e-commerce capability! Read More from “SRN Website Now Offers Online Ordering!”
On September 24, 2018, a historical marker was erected during a ceremony in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that state’s child occupant protection (COP) law, the first such law in the world. The marker honors the late Dr. Robert Sanders, a pediatrician well known as Dr. Seat Belt, for his role as a driving force prompting the wave of COP laws that spread across the country. The ceremony was attended by his widow, Patricia Sanders, who is also named on the marker for her involvement in successfully advocating for the Tennessee law.
That very first law required CR use until a child’s third birthday, and it took the Sanders four more years to eliminate a “babes in arms” exception that had been slipped in before passage. The Sanders’ tireless efforts to protect children continue to serve as an inspiration for efforts to strengthen COP laws.
In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a revised version of its policy statement titled “Child Passenger Safety.” The changes primarily affect the wording of recommendations for how long a child should ride rear facing. While the former version, issued in 2011, indicated that a child should stay rear facing until at least age 2 or older, the revised policy simply recommends that children stay rear facing as long as possible, until the height or weight limit of their RF CR is met (without making age 2 the rear-facing goal).
This guest article continues SRN’s “Ask an Engineer” series with Dave Sander, CPST-I and engineer (formerly with Evenflo). This series gives an insider view of how CR engineers develop and design CRs, as well as new insights into CR functionality.
Load legs (aka stability legs, foot props) are not a new invention. They’ve been a common feature of CRs for many years in other parts of the world, especially Europe. But in the U.S., load legs continue to be a bit of a novelty and are found only on a handful of (mostly high-end) RF-only CRs. The feature employs an adjustable metal bar that extends vertically from the CR base to the floor of a vehicle to help manage crash force (see photo, left).
In August, the governor of New Jersey signed a law that will require new school buses of any size in that state to be equipped with lap-shoulder belts in all seating positions. The law goes into effect 180 days after enactment, giving transportation departments in that state time to adjust to the new requirements.
On August 10, a full-size, 2010 GMC Savana van carrying school-aged children on a field trip in New Hampshire left the highway and struck a tree head on. Although the crash was serious, only one of the 13 passengers was seriously injured. “It appears seat belts saved a lot of lives today,” one state trooper told the a regional news affiliate while on-site at the crash. “These children—most or all—were wearing seat belts.”