This morning, I educated a client on installing their Chicco Keyfit infant seat. With little effort, they had it installed perfectly with LATCH. Fifteen years ago, I started my first website with a page on the LATCH system and how it would revolutionize carseats by making them easier to install. The Keyfit is a fine example of this revolution.
This afternoon, I listened to a great online webinar presented by SafeRideNews, publishers of the excellent LATCH Manual. The best part of this manual is that it helps certified technicians and instructors wade through the insurmountable information in owner’s manuals, plus everything omitted from those manuals, and condenses it all into nice tables and charts.
In condensed form, this information is still over 230 pages long. In fact, a typical parent has little chance in the real world of understanding relevant limits for using LATCH on a forward-facing carseat and even a few rear-facing ones. I expect that most of those who manage to use LATCH correctly will not realize when they must switch to a seatbelt. Even with newer government standards, understanding when to use LATCH can still be mind-boggling for an experienced technician who owns the LATCH manual. So much so that I am hesitant to install a forward-facing harnessed carseat with LATCH ever again, unless a seatbelt is not an option for any reason.
Back in 2000, I hoped that LATCH would make technicians obsolete. Today, a technician has to have an advanced degree in LATCH in order to be able to correctly instruct parents on how to use lower anchors and/or top tethers. I never thought I would miss locking clips and the good ‘ol days before LATCH was prevalent.
Quiz time: What is quicker? Installing a Britax Frontier with a long seatbelt path, or figuring out when you can use it with LATCH in a random vehicle that arrives at a checkup event? If you’re not sure, then perhaps you agree with me that LATCH has become a complete debacle, at least for forward-facing carseats.