Study: Child car seats difficult to install in many vehicles

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Most parents would never leave home without their infant or child safely buckled into a car seat, but installing those seats isn’t always easy.

A new study finds parents can struggle with the hardware designed to secure a child safety seat inside a vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute evaluated the anchors and tethers used to attach safety seats in nearly a hundred vehicle models and also observed volunteers trying to install them.

Only 21 vehicles met the study’s criteria for being ‘easy’ to use. Others experienced issues like the lower anchor being buried in between these seat belts, making it challenging to find.

Volunteers were more likely to install seats correctly  when the hardware was easier to use.

But the study also found less than half of volunteers used the top tether to secure forward-facing seats — with many parents not realizing it’s essential.

They may think it’s optional, but the top tether is an essential part of making the child restraint work best.

That top tether can ensure that the seat stays in the proper place, minimizing how much that seat moves side to side or back and forth in the event of an accident.