Installing a car seat correctly is no easy task.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly three out of four car seats are not properly installed. Despite technologies, such as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), aimed at simplifying the car seat installation process, many parents are still missing the mark.  AAA’s recent survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to inspect and properly install car seats, reveals that LATCH misuse is cause for concern.  Nearly three quarters of CPSTs surveyed observe parents misusing the LATCH system more than half of the time.

“While strides have been made to make car seats easier to use, the overwhelming majority of car seats are still not installed properly,” cautioned AAA Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Jennifer Cook.  “AAA reminds parents to protect their most precious cargo by making sure they have a car seat that fits their child and vehicle, they use the car seat correctly every time, and have their car seat installation inspected by a certified technician.”

LATCH has been required in nearly all vehicles and car seats since September 2002 and is touted as a user-friendly alternative to the seat belt.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 75 percent of parents with experience installing car seats using both methods prefer LATCH.  Despite this preference, LATCH does not guarantee a perfect installation; a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) survey revealed that only 13 percent of parent volunteers were able to use LATCH correctly to install car seats.


AAA’s recent survey also revealed that installation difficulties go beyond choosing which installation method to use.  CPSTs have reported well-intentioned parents using all types of everyday items, from bungee cords and plywood to zip ties and shoe laces to secure car seats. “Not only do these common items interfere with proper installation,” warned Cook, “but they can become projectiles in the event of a crash.”