Translation: All seatbelts in new vehicles will continue to have some way to lock pre-crash (in order to keep a child restraint securely in place), even after September 2012.

Now this might seem like trivial news to those who don’t spend their lives “doing their best work in the backseat,” but I assure you that it is VERY big news for anyone who has a kid in a carseat. You see, for reasons we don’t fully understand, NHTSA was going to allow vehicle manufacturers to go back to seatbelts without pre-crash locking features after September 2012 if the seating position had LATCH anchors. This was referred to as the “sunsetting” of the lockability standard of 1996.  Had it happened, it would have meant no more switchable retractors, no more locking latchplates and a lot more locking clips for parents who didn’t want to, or couldn’t, use LATCH.  And of course, more misuse of child restraints installed with seatbelts as a result.

Fortunately, after many years of lobbying by groups such as Safety Belt Safe USA and Safe Ride News, NHTSA has announced a final ruling on the matter. The verdict is… the lockability standard will continue!  Whew!  Kudos to all the advocates who dedicated significant time and effort during the last 5 or 6 years to ensure this outcome. You know who you are, and we all owe you BIG TIME!!!

Link to the federal register which includes this final ruling announcement.