April 12, 2005

NHTSA reviewing safety of LATCH child seat anchors

Washington, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing an incident where a California child was nearly strangled by a seat belt while riding in a car seat attached by the LATCH system.

The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is required on most child safety seats and cars manufactured after 2002, and uses a set of hooks and straps which attach the safety seat to bars and hooks embedded in the vehicle seats. The system does not use the vehicle’s seat belts, which are left hanging free.

Three-year-old Kaitlin Sipes of Rancho Murieta, California was nearly strangled by an unoccupied seat belt in March. She survived but her experience has prompted recommendations that parents consider locking the seat belts behind car seats when using LATCH to deter children from playing with them. Earlier this year a three-year-old Virginia boy was strangled by a lap-shoulder seat belt when he got his neck hooked in it.

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