LATCH Weight Limits
What is this about LATCH weight limits?
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tether for Children.
The intention was great. Make it easier for parents to install car seats correctly. Based on what I’ve seen checking car seats over the years. The intent often got lost (perhaps along with the instructions).
I’ve seen LATCH misused in many ways. One of the most common I’ve seen is using the LATCH system and the vehicle seat belt to install the child restraint. This falls into the tighter is not always better category.
Plus, and more importantly, when you use both you are doubling the webbing which prevents it from stretching during a crash. This stretch takes the crash energy that the webbing is meant to absorb (this you want) and transfers it to the plastic shell of the car seat.
Another fact I’ve seen parents not be aware of is that there are actually weight limits on the LATCH system. For most vehicle manufacturers that lower anchor weight limit is 65 pounds. That 65 pounds is the combined weight of the seat and the child.
So if a seat weighs, as many do, 25 pounds, the weight limit for the child (while using LATCH) is 40 pounds. At which point in time parents are supposed to start using the seat belt system instead of LATCH.
While the weight limits have been in place since the beginning of LATCH, a new federal standard for car seats will take place in 2014. This new standard will require car seats to have yet another label (how many of the labels on your current car seat have you read?).
This new label will inform parents that they need to limit the use of the lower anchors of the LATCH system to a maximum weight for a child. This new standard is actually good news since it will mean, hopefully, more parents are informed of the LATCH weight limits.
Remember seat belts are just as safe (and at higher weights safer) as LATCH. A lot of parents have asked me about this when I moved their incorrectly LATCH installed restraint to a seat belt install. Again the purpose of the LATCH was not to be a better install but to be an easier install.
As for the top tether anchor, nothing will be on the new sticker about those. However, many vehicle manufacturers are still limiting top tether anchor use to the same combined (restraint and child) 65-pound weight (some manufacturers use a lower weight limit) even when the restraint is installed using the vehicle’s seat belt system.
One thing to note here is that the RideSafer Travel Vests weigh a little more than a pound. So if you were to use the RideSafer the combined 65-pound weight for the top tether anchor would mean a maximum weight of the child of 63 pounds. And we offer a dual tether which will spread the weight across two top anchors.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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