Vehicle characteristics associated with LATCH use and correct use in real-world child restraint installations

Cicchino, Jessica B. / Jermakian, Jessica S.
Journal of Safety Research
June 2015

Introduction: The objective of this study was to determine if vehicle features associated with LATCH ease-of-use in laboratory studies with volunteers predict LATCH use and misuse in real-world child restraint installations.
Method: Vehicle characteristics were extracted from prior surveys of more than 100 top-selling 2010–13 vehicles. Use and correct use of LATCH was determined from records of more than 14,000 child restraint installations in these vehicles that were inspected by child passenger safety technicians at Safe Kids car seat checkup events during 2010–12. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between vehicle features and use and correct use of lower anchors and top tethers, controlling for other relevant installation features.
Results: Lower anchors were more likely to be used and correctly used when the clearance angle around them was greater than 54°, the force required to attach them to the lower anchors was less than 178 N, and their depth within the seat bight was less than 4 cm. Restraints were more likely to be attached correctly when installed with the lower anchors than with the seat belt. After controlling for lower anchor use and other installation features, the likelihood of tether use and correct use in installations of forward-facing restraints was signi cantly higher when there was no hardware present that could potentially be confused with the tether anchor or when the tether anchor was located on the rear deck, which is typical in sedans.
Conclusions: There is converging evidence from laboratory studies with volunteers and real-world child restraint installations that vehicle features are associated with correct LATCH use.
Practical applications: Vehicle designs that improve the ease of installing child restraints with LATCH could improve LATCH use rates and reduce child restraint misuse.

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