Guest Blog: Tether Anchor Weight Advice: Assessing the Risks

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Is it “safer” to teach CPSTs to counsel parents to disconnect a tether at 40 pounds for a child in a high-weight-harness CR when the vehicle manufacturer does not specify a tether anchor weight limit, or to teach that a tether should be used as long as possible following the CR manufacturer’s instructions?

That is the key question that we, Safe Ride News and SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., have asked the National CPS Board (NCPSB) curriculum-writing team in our joint comments regarding updates to the curriculum.  Without any data to the contrary, it seems to us very risky to tell CPSTs to counsel CR users to disconnect a tether for a heavier or taller child in a harness CR when the CR manufacturer’s own limits are much higher.

The brief curriculum content about anchor weight limits for tethers remains for us as CPS advocates, technicians, and instructors one of the most complicated and frustrating parts of the training course.  Regarding that topic (which we emphasize is specific to tether anchors, not lower anchors), we sent an open letter to the NCPSB that was reprinted as an editorial in the May/June issue of Safe Ride News and is available on the SRN website.  We suggest that anyone interested in this topic take a look and voice their thoughts to me at dstewart@saferidenews.com.

We do want to recognize and appreciate the Herculean task that the curriculum update team has taken on.  The team is composed of the entire NCPSB (www.cpsboard.org).

Deborah Davis Stewart
Publisher, Safe Ride News

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Editor’s note:  CarseatBlog strongly recommends use of top tethers, except where clearly prohibited in writing by a weight limit or other restriction in the child restraint or vehicle owner’s manual. The lack of consensus among manufacturers, regulators, agencies and advocates about tether limits simply confuses parents.  Ultimately, this confusion can result in failure to use top tethers, especially for older kids who would benefit the most from their use.  Lacking significant published evidence, applicable standards or relevant policy statements from agencies like the AAP and NHTSA, we must have clearly stated limits in the owner’s manuals and warnings on labels if there is a real risk in using a top tether.  This allows technicians to limit their liability and most importantly, for parents to keep children as safe as possible in their vehicles.  And that, of course, is our goal.

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