Your Car's Design Is Probably Why It's Hard To Install A Kid's Car Seat

You shouldn’t feel too bad after wrestling with your child’s car seat as you attempt to install it correctly. New research suggests that it’s the car’s design itself that’s to blame for your troubles — in fact, very few are easy to use with child restraints.

Research done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that just 21 of 98 top-selling 2010 and 2011 model year vehicles include seat designs that don’t make it a hassle to install a car seat, reports the Chicago Tribune.

This is extra intriguing because right now, the auto industry is using a system known as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children — or Latch — that is supposed to make the whole darn thing easier. But apparently manufacturers aren’t paying close enough attention to how the system works when they’re dreaming up passenger seat designs.

The research had 36 volunteers trying to install three styles of child restraints in three vehicles. They could also use the seats in their own cars. If they struggled with the seats, they could look at their owners’ manual but not ask for other help.

Out of those, only 13% of volunteers installed seats with lower anchors and top tethers to get a tight, secure fit at the right angle, according to the insurance group. The lower anchors used to attach the restraint systems were often set too deeply in the seat, making them hard to get at. Only 36 of 98 cars had them clearly visible. Upholstery and other features of the vehicles often got in the way as well.

And it isn’t just you working up a sweat — it took most people a lot of effort to install those seats, often too much, found the researchers. Around 40 pounds of force was sometimes need to properly install car seat hardware to the lower anchors.

Make that process easier, say the researchers, and everyone will struggle and flail a lot less.

Insurance group says car design hinders use of child safety seats [Chicago Tribune]