As families prepare to travel during the holidays, make sure your kids are safely buckled up for the trip you and and that you understand the new child car seat standards that will change in the New Year.
Starting in 2014, the new recommendation states that the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system should no longer be used when the child and car seat combined weight is over 65 pounds. This is an amendment to the law made in 2001 that recommends all children up to 65 pounds remain in car or booster seats. However, when the law was made the weight of the actual car seat wasn’t taken into consideration. Because car manufacturers are unable to guarantee the strength of the anchors when adding additional weight to the seat, the law was modified.
If you are unsure if these new guidelines will affect you follow this simple step. First weigh your child and then weight the seat. If the number is over 65 pounds after you add both weights together, start using the seat belt restraint system and not the LATCH system.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in a harness system (including 5 point harness or booster seat with seatbelt) until the age of 8. This age recommendation prompted car seat manufacturers to design car seats for higher weights in children.
Car seat laws vary from state to state so make sure that you have the most up to date regulations. You can find them here. You can also follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations which can be found by following this link. If you are unsure whether or not you are buckling your child in properly check out this great resource.
Ken Shigley is past president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12), double board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Advocacy by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, and lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice. His Atlanta-based civil trial practice is focused on representation of plaintiffs in cases of castastrophic personal injury and wrongful death.