Summary of Changes to Federal Regulations (FMVSS 213 and 225)
User-ready top tether strap anchorage hardware (such as a ring, bar, bracket, or webbing loop) for three rear seating positions were available in most passenger vehicles beginning with model year 2000 and were required in all cars, minivans, and pick-up trucks by model year 2001.
Lower anchors for child restraints, each consisting of two rigid bars 6 mm in diameter and 25-50 mm long, are present in the vehicle seat bight (the crack between the seat back and seat cushion) in specified seating positions in all cars, minivans, and pick-up trucks after September 1, 2002 (model year 2003). and in many made before that date.
Requirements apply to all passenger cars, trucks, and multipurpose passenger vehicles under 8500 lbs.; also apply to buses under 10,000 lbs.
Current belt lockability requirement remains effective until September 1, 2012, so child restraints without new hardware can be attached with regular vehicle belts. After that date, only vehicle belts in seating positions without lower anchorage systems must meet lockability requirement (capable of securing a child restraint without added equipment, such as a locking clip).
No tether anchorage hardware is required for convertible cars or school buses.
A built-in child restraint can replace the required anchorage system in one rear seating position.
At least one front seating position must have the required anchorage system if the vehicle has an air bag cut-off switch and has either no rear seat or a rear seat too small for a rear-facing child restraint.
Child Restraint Requirements:
The head excursion limit (maximum distance the head can travel forward in crash tests) has been reduced by nearly four inches to 28 inches. In order to meet the new requirement, most forward-facing child restraints made after September 1, 1999, are equipped with a top tether strap. They also must meet the previous head excursion requirement without using the tether strap.
Lower attachment hardware (a hook, buckle, or other type of connector) is required on new child restraints made since September 1, 2002, and is available on many models made before then. Webbing-based attachments must be adjustable.
Child Restraint Exceptions:
Belt-positioning boosters, car beds, and harnesses are not required to have a tether strap or lower attachment hardware. However, lower attachment hardware is required on combination seats (forward-facing restraints with a removable harness that convert to boosters).
Rear-facing child restraints are not required to have a tether strap. If a rear-facing restraint has a detachable base, only the base must have lower attachment hardware.
*LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren)
SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. • P.O. Box 553, Altadena, CA 91003
A reproducible copy of this flyer is available in PDF format.
See also Safe Ride News LATCH Primer, NHTSA Tips on Installation, and our Technical Encyclopedia under LATCH.