Child seats hard to install in most vehicles, IIHS study says
DETROIT (Reuters) -- Only a fifth of the top-selling vehicles for the 2010 and 2011 model years were built so parents can easily install child safety seats, according to a study released today.
Seven models, including the Toyota Sienna XLE minivan, in the United States last year, did not have any of the three characteristics that make installation of child restraints easy. The Sienna was the No. 1 selling minivan in the U.S. market in 2011.
Twenty-one of the 98 cars evaluated by researchers met all three criteria outlined by researchers, according to the study, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
U.S. safety regulators mandated that vehicles made for the 2003 model year and later must be built with standard set of features that allow parents to install a safety seat.
That system is called lower anchors and tethers for children, or LATCH. Under LATCH, cars must have anchors in the rear seats that can be attached to the top and bottom of child safety seats.
Researchers said those anchors must be easy to see and be no more than three-quarters of an inch deep. Parents must be able to reach them easily and use less than 40 pounds of force to install the seat.
The 21 models that boasted these three characteristics included General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Equinox crossover, Chrysler's Town & Country minivan and the Ford Escape XLT.
The Honda Pilot SUV and the Mercedes-Benz C300 sports sedan were also on that list.
"Sometimes parents blame themselves when they struggle with LATCH, but often times the problem lies with the vehicle, not the user," said Anne McCartt, one of the report's authors and senior vice president of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
For a copy of the study, click here.Contact Automotive News