Dozens of vehicles tested for ease-of-use with child seat restraints

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Child restraints are critical to keep kids safe, but it can be hard to install your child's car seat properly. (WPVI)

Installing car seats for your kids isn't always easy. In fact, one study shows a whopping 70% of child seats are installed with a mistake.

Now there's new information to help families.

Safety experts of a brand new study are calling on car makers to do a much better job of making child restraint hardware like this easier to find and use.

Child restraints are critical to keep kids safe, but it can be hard to install your child's car seat properly.

And now the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released the first ever "ease of use" ratings.

"The ratings focus on how easy it is for parents to install child restraint using LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children," said Jessica Jermakian from the Insirance Institute For Highway Safety.

Child seats can be installed using seat belts but LATCH hardware is intended to make installation easier - and it does work.

Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be installed correctly, but in many vehicles, LATCH hardware could be easier to find and easier to connect.

"Out of more than 100 vehicles we evaluated, only three are in the top rating of good and more than half were poor or marginal," said Jermakian.

The lower anchors in one vehicle are deep and hard to find, but the LATCH hardware in the Volkswagen Passat makes it easy to snap a restraint into place and tighten.

The Volkswagen Passat, Mercedes Benz GL-Class, and BMW 5 Series were the only vehicles to get a GOOD rating.

The ratings are also based on how easy it is to find the top tether.

But parents - be aware, it's important to attach the top tether even if you've attached the lower anchors.

"If manufacturers fix the problems with LATCH hardware, parents will have an easier time installing restraint correctly and kids will be safer as a result," said Jermakian.

Meantime, the IIHS ratings information includes a diagram for each vehicle to show the location of all LATCH-equipped seating positions and extra tether anchors.

For more information on the ease of use ratings, visit the IIHS website.
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