JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Child seat requirements will change in 2014. Parents will be warned not to use a federally required child-seat attachment system when a new rule takes effect January 1.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is a child seat system that's been around for awhile, but may not be the safest option for your child.
"It's just an easier way for parents to put the clips on the car seat, without having to use the seat belt," said Jonesboro Police Officer Sheridan Watts.
Sometimes using the seat belt, whether it be more time consuming or not, could be the safest way to secure your car seat. Watts said it's either one or the other. You never want to use both the latches and the seat belt.
"When you start using a seat belt and a latch you're putting stress on a plastic car seat," said Watts. "We don't know how it will react in a crash because it's not tested that way."
Choosing which option to use is different for everyone. Watts said it's all about knowing your child's weight, the weight of the car seat and your type of vehicle.
"Depending on what the owner's manual for your car says, your latch may only support up to 40 pounds," said Watts.
State Law requires that children six years of age or up to 60 pounds should be in a car seat. For a child to safely sit in a seat, without the belt coming up on their neck, their height should be above 4'9. However, Watts has his own recommendations.
"I say 8-years-old or 80 pounds," said Watts. "Give the kids those two extra years for those bones to get stronger, that neck to get stronger and for your kid to be just a little bit safer."
Watts will be teaching a four and half day training class this week to officers all across North Arkansas, on how to properly install a car seat. Based on national misuse rates, he's working to help lower them.
"National misuse rates are about 85 percent," said Watts. "We find that around here they're actually a little bit higher than that."
A car seat safety class will take place at the ASU baseball stadium from 8:30am to noon. Trained officers will show parents how to properly install a car seat based on child, car seat and type of vehicle. They will also give car seats free of cost to those families who don't have one.