In Part I, I discussed some issues regarding universal child seat fitment and cooperation among automobile and child restraint manufacturers. The example happened to be about some new Volvo-branded child restraints that will be available in some countries later this year. It’s not clear if these child restraints are actually all that new or unique, let alone safer or easier to use than similar models already on the market. On the other hand, if Volvo has developed a new and improved fitment system unique to Volvo automobiles, that would be impressive, especially given that there was cooperation with a child restraint manufacturer.
This is the Quandry. Why don’t these companies work more closely together to make a system that is very easy to use and very difficult to misuse? Why don’t we have child restraints in the USA that simply “plug-in” and work? Wouldn’t it be great if we had child seats that could be installed tightly, without needing a 300 pound fireman to push it into the vehicle seat cushion so far that permanent gouges are left in the fabric? Wouldn’t it be great if the average parent could get a rock-solid installation of a 5-point harness child seat in just a few seconds, using only one hand and little effort? I give you the answer in video format:
So our new Quandry is this. We clearly have the technology. So, why do we still have so many kids improperly restrained and being seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes? LATCH* could have put child passenger safety technicians out of work, or at least out of their volunteer work. Instead, it has only created more business. It didn’t have to be this way. It can still be fixed. If only the relevant manufacturers, retailers and regulators would watch this video…
*Europe made fewer concessions to manufacturers when the LATCH system was being developed in the late 1990s. Child restraints with rigid LATCH (known there as ISOFIX) are standard there. Today, 5-point harness models with rigid LATCH simply are not on the market in the USA, though we do have a couple boosters with this feature, like the Clek Olli/Oobr.