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Interpretation ID: 24605Pitman_vest_with_LATCH

    Ms. Elizabeth J. Pitman
    13970 S.W. 72nd Avenue
    Portland, OR 97223-8036

    Dear Ms. Pitman:

    This responds to your letter concerning a child harness system that you would like to manufacture. You ask whether your design would meet all the requirements set forth in Standards No. 213, "Child Restraint Systems," and No. 225, "Child Restraint Anchorage Systems."

    According to the sketches you provided, the harness is designed to attach to a vehicle seat using either a vehicle lap belt or the two lower bars of a vehicles "LATCH" [1] system. There also is a top "tether strap." In vehicle seating positions that lack a tether anchor, the tether strap will wrap around the vehicle seat back. You informed Dee Fujita of my staff in an October 15, 2002, telephone call that the harness does not need the tether strap to meet the requirements of Standard No. 213, "Child Restraint Systems." You stated that the tether strap is provided "to reinforce the seat back."

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines the compliance of products with the safety standards in the context of an agency enforcement proceeding. Thus, we are unable to render an opinion as to whether your harness would meet the requirements of Standard No. 213. (Standard No. 225 applies to motor vehicles and thus would not apply to your product.) Further, NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, it would be your responsibility as a manufacturer to determine the requirements that apply and certify the compliance of your product with those requirements. [2]

    We can make the following interpretation of Standard No. 213s requirements as applied to your product. Child restraint harness systems are not required by Standard No. 213 to have attachments ("LATCH components") that enable the restraint to connect to a child restraint anchorage system on a vehicle. We excluded harnesses from the requirement out of practicability concerns. However, if you provide LATCH components on your harness, the harness must be able to meet Standard No. 213s performance requirements when attached using the LATCH components. Under S6.1.2(a)(1)(i)(C) of the standard, we will attach the harness to the LATCH system "in accordance with the manufacturers instructions provided with the system pursuant to S5.6.1." Further, the LATCH components, including the tether strap, must not make inoperative the attaching and performance of the harness with the seat belt.

    We would also like to observe that vehicle manufacturers design their vehicle seats to comply with the strength requirements of Standard No. 207, "Seating Systems." The wrap-around tether belt could impose an additional load on the vehicle seat back in a crash.

    You also ask whether the harness is "acceptable to replace a booster seat in [sic] a standard car seat."We regret that we cannot provide the opinion you seek. NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Further, we are unfamiliar with the use of LATCH components on harnesses.

    If you have further questions, please contact Ms. Fujita at (202) 366-2992.


    Jacqueline Glassman
    Chief Counsel


    [1] "LATCH" is a term developed by industry and retail groups referring to the child restraint anchorage system required by Standard No. 225. LATCH stands for "lower anchorages and tethers for children." For convenience, we will use the term in this letter.

    [2] For purposes of enforcement, this agency conducts spot checks of child restraints after they have been certified as complying with Standard No. 213, by purchasing and testing the child restraints according to the procedures specified in the standard. If the restraints pass the tests, no further steps are taken. If the child restraints fail the test and are determined not to comply with Standard No. 213, the manufacturer of the child restraint is subject to the recall responsibilities of our statute. Manufacturers must also ensure that their products are free of safety-related defects. Our statute specifies that, in the case of a child restraint which fails to comply with Standard No. 213 or contains a safety‑related defect, the manufacturer must notify purchasers and either: (a) repair the child restraint, so that the defect or noncompliance is removed; or (b) replace the child restraint with an identical or reasonably equivalent child restraint which does not have the defect or noncompliance. Whichever of these options is chosen, the child restraint manufacturer must bear the expense and cannot charge the child restraint owner for the remedy.