February 9, 2007

NHTSA’s top safety official calls for manufacturer’s to make child seats easier to install

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. government’s top highway safety officer today called on manufacturers, retailers, researchers and consumer groups to help improve the use and safety of child car seats and the special anchors used to attach them to vehicles – especially in light of new evidence indicating parents are often unsure of the best way to install the life-saving devices.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole R. Nason, who was joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino, issued the challenge at the opening of a day-long summit with industry leaders and consumer advocates aimed at improving child car seat safety.

“Every day, five of our children are killed and another 640 are injured on our roads. Car seats, booster seats and other restraints are a proven way to keep our children safe and an inexpensive investment in their future,” Deputy Secretary Cino said.

In December, Nason called for the summit after a new survey conducted by NHTSA found that many parents were unaware of either the existence or the importance of a new system of anchors built into newer vehicles, and specifically designed to hold and anchor car seats. The summit will focus on how to increase the correct use of these so-called Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) systems, which come standard in vehicles made after 2002.

Nason said one of the key goals of the meeting is to make sure parents and caregivers have clear guidance on proper car seat and LATCH use, whether from the car seat manufacturer, vehicle owner’s manual or the retailer. In addition, NHTSA is looking into ways to improve its ease-of-use ratings, as well as mandatory child seat safety performance, she said.

“We want to make children as safe as possible, give the best information and make the technology available to protect children in vehicles,” Administrator Nason said.

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