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Attention all parents: Important new car seat law for 2014

December 31, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has new rules for LATCH system

LATCH

There’s a new car seat recommendation slated for 2014 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The new recommendation states that the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) should no longer be used when the child and car seat combined weight is over 65 pounds. The LATCH system was designed to make child seats easier to install and, therefore, safer.

This is an amendment to the original law instituted in 2001, that recommends that all children up to 65 pounds remain in car seats and boosters, but that didn’t take into account the weight of car seats. According to published reports, auto makers cannot guarantee the strength of the anchors when adding the additional weight of the seat, thus the need to modify the law.

Child seats typically weigh 15 to 33 pounds. So the new rule means some children as light as 32 pounds might not be able to use the LATCH system, according to a recent story in USA Today, “Car seat requirements change with 2014 rule.”

To be sure you’re meeting the 2014 car seat guidelines, you can take the following three steps:

  1. Weigh your child.
  2. Weight the car seat
  3. Add them together. If they’re over 65lbs combined, start using the seat belt restraint versus the LATCH system.

Michigan child restraint law

As I’ve found this year and last while serving as President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association, the car seat laws vary by state. In Michigan, where I practice law, our car seat law states as follows:

  • Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
  • Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.

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