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Effects of child restraint system features on installation errors.

This study examined how child restraint system (CRS) features contribute to CRS installation errors. Sixteen convertible CRS, selected to include a wide range of features, were used in volunteer testing with 32 subjects. Subjects were recruited based on their education level (high or low) and experience with installing CRS (none or experienced). Each subject was asked to perform four child restraint installations in the right-rear passenger seat of a 2006 Pontiac G6 sedan using a crash dummy as a child surrogate. Each subject installed two CRS forward-facing (FF), one with LATCH and one with the vehicle seatbelt, and two CRS rear-facing (RF), one with LATCH and one with the seatbelt. After each installation, the experimenter evaluated 42 factors for each installation, such as choice of belt routing path, tightness of installation, and harness snugness. Analyses used linear mixed models to identify CRS installation outcomes associated with CRS features. LATCH connector type, LATCH strap adjustor type, and the presence of belt lockoffs were associated with the tightness of the CRS installation. The type of harness shoulder height adjuster was associated with the rate of achieving a snug harness. Correct tether use was associated with the tether storage method. In general, subject assessments of the ease-of-use of CRS features were not highly correlated with the quality of their installation, suggesting a need for feedback with incorrect installations. The data from this study provide quantitative assessments of some CRS features that were associated with reductions in CRS installation errors. These results provide child restraint designers with design guidelines for developing easier-to-use products. Research on providing effective feedback during the child restraint installation process is recommended.

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