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New rating system developed for LATCH hardware in vehicles

June 18, 2015

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has launched a new rating system for LATCH usability. The new rating system for LATCH usability is based on IIHS-sponsored research conducted at UMTRI over the last four years led by associate research scientist Kathleen Klinich and senior research associate Miriam Manary.

LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and consists of dedicated hardware in the vehicle and on the child restraint. By offering a method to install child restraints without using the vehicle seat belt, the system was intended to make it easier to install a child seat properly. This is true in many vehicles, but in other vehicles LATCH is difficult to use even if it meets federal requirements. It is particularly important to make the tether anchor easy to find and use because using a tether offers an additional safety benefit by reducing head movement of forward-facing children in a crash.

The Institute's new LATCH ratings will serve as a resource for families looking for a vehicle that makes it easier to install their child restraints using the LATCH system. In addition, the information provided by the IIHS highlights vehicles that provide more LATCH anchors than are required by FMVSS 225.

“The diagrams provided by the IIHS quickly show how many seating positions have lower anchors and tethers, how hard they are to use, and whether there are options for using LATCH in center seating positions,” says Klinich.

More Information:

IIHS LATCH ratings news release

Factors affecting tether use and misuse (UMTRI report)

LATCH usability in vehicles (UMTRI report)