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Factors affecting tether use and correct use in child restraint installations

Jermakian, Jessica S.; Klinich, Kathleen D.; Orton, Nichole R.; Flannagan, Carol A.C.; Manary, Miriam A.; Malik, Laura A.; Narayanaswamy, Prabha
Journal of Safety Research
December 2014

Introduction: Field studies show that top tethers go unused in half of forward-facing child restraint installations.
Method: In this study, parent volunteers were asked to use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) to install child restraints in several vehicles to identify tether anchor characteristics that are associated with tether use. Thirty-seven volunteers were assigned to four groups. Each group tested two forward-facing child restraints in four of 16 vehicle models. Logistic regression models were used to identify predictors of tether use and correct use.
Results: Subjects used the tether in 89% of the 294 forward-facing child restraint installations and attached the tether correctly in 57% of the installations. Tethers were more likely to be used when the anchor was located on the rear deck as typically found in sedans compared with the seatback, floor, or roof. Tethers were less likely to be attached correctly when there was potentially confusing hardware present. No vehicle tether hardware characteristics or vehicle manual directions were associated specifically with correct tether routing and head restraint position.
Practical applications: This study provides laboratory evidence that specific vehicle features are associated with tether use and correct use.