The high level of crashworthiness of child restraining devices (CRDs) mandated by FMVSS Ho. 213-80, and the dynamic test procedure adopted voluntarily by the industry before 213-80 went into effect, do not necessarily transfer from the laboratory to the family automobile. Correct use of CRDs is essential; misuse reduces or could even defeat the protective potential.
To establish the magnitude of one part of the misuse problem, 23 observers in 12 states examined installation of CRDs in the forward-facing “toddler” mode for errors in seat belt routing and top tether installation. Of the 3233 crashworthy CRDs observed, 51% required a tether strap. Correct use of tethers was noted in only 16% of these. Of the 2323 CRDs examined for seat belt as well as tether installation, 75% were found to have errors in belt routing, tether use, or both. The consequences of misuse are touched upon, possible reasons for misuse are discussed, and remedies are suggested.