Car seat safety suffers as half of all families forget the Top Tether
A car seat safety survey has revealed around half of families fail to fit child seats adequately, forgetting to tether the top. The Top Tether prevents the seat rotating forwards in a collision. With vehicle–related injuries the leading cause of death for children aged between one and ten in the UK and the US, parents should be aware of this key car seat safety measure.
“This is a persistent problem,” said Anne McCartt, director of safety research for the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). “Many parents haven’t got the message that the Top Tether should be used with forward facing child restraints, whether they are fitted with seatbelts or the bottom ISOFIX (LATCH) points.”
The Top Tether is an integral part of the ISOFIX (LATCH) system for forward-facing seats. It is a strap that anchors the top of a forward-facing car seat. This prevents it from rolling forward in a crash, minimising whiplash and protecting young children’s vulnerable heads and necks from injuries. On some older vehicles without the anchor points, the car seat is braced instead by a leg prop that contacts the floor.
- Check out our guide for new parents Car Seat Safety For Your Baby
Most parents who have cars with anchor points just don’t know they are supposed to use the tethers, however. The problem is sometimes made worse by the fact that some car seat manufacturers, including trusted names like Britax, sometimes sell the tether separately. And so most people secure the seat with just the safety belt or the lower ISOFIX anchor points.
This video shows how limiting movement in the seat significantly reduces movement of a toddler’s head and the loads acting on the neck.
Even the people that understand how the Top Tether improves car seat safety can find it hard to use and often install it incorrectly. Hamish McPhillips of the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory’s Child Safety Centre said: “Car makers put the anchor points in different locations and some recess them in hard-to-use places. A number put the anchor point on the floor of the luggage compartment, compromising storage space.”
It is worth checking the owner’s manual and looking for the tether anchor symbol. Clear step-by-step instructions on how to attach it will be in the seat’s instruction booklet, usually found in a pocket on the seat.
If you’re still not sure, many retailers offer a free fitment service and are happy to check and advise.
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