Top tethers often not used in child safety seats: study

September 21, 2011

Washington – Although proper use of child safety seats has improved in recent years, improper or non-use of top tethers remains an area of concern, according to research (.pdf file) released Sept. 15 by Safe Kids USA.

The top tether is a strap on the seat that hooks to an anchor in the vehicle to help reduce the forward movement of a child’s head in a crash.

The study included data from 79,000 child safety seat inspections during a one-year period. Researchers found that less than one-third of the forward-facing seats inspected used the top tether. Among those that were using the top tether, only 59 percent were using it correctly.

The study also found a need to educate parents on criteria for switching children from rear- to forward-facing car seats. Among study participants, 41 percent of children heavier than 20 pounds and 32 percent of children older than 1 year were still riding in rear-facing car seats.

Safe Kids USA offers child safety seat recommendations and information on finding a car seat inspection site in your area.