The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation, is the federal agency responsible for establishing and monitoring safety criteria for child safety seats and vehicles. In addition, NHTSA develops educational materials and trainings, provides money for research and safety and enforcement programs, conducts research, and conducts compliance testing on products. The NHTSA website, https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats, provides a wealth of information on child passenger safety.
Visitors to the website can search for recalls, information on types of child safety seats, best practice recommendations, ease of use findings, and locations of child safety seat inspection stations, just to name a few.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (FMVSS 213)
FMVSS 213 governs the performance and some design criteria for child restraint systems for children who weigh up to 80 pounds. The standard includes requirements for restraint crashworthiness, labeling and instructions, flammability, and buckle and release pressure. Child safety seat manufacturers must self-certify that their products meet or exceed performance criteria established by the FMVSS 213 and have labels that document this compliance attached to their restraints.
As of February 2014, NHTSA ruled that a consumer warning label must appear on all child restraints regarding the maximum weight for use of the lower anchors. This label will combine the weight of the child and the weight of the child restraint to determine the how long the seat can be installed with the lower anchors.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 225 (FMVSS 225)
This standard sets requirements for the location and strength of lower anchors and top tether anchors in vehicles. Two vehicle seating positions are required to have a LATCH system, each comprised of a top tether anchor and a lower anchor. The lower anchors are located at the crease between the vehicle seat back and vehicle cushion. Another seating position must have a top tether anchor. For vehicles with more than two rows of seats, one of the lower anchor systems is required to be in the second row. For more information on LATCH, click here.
For details on child passenger safety standards and rules, click on www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Child+Passenger+Safety.