With so many cars on the market, it can be difficult to know where to begin and which features to prioritize when looking for a spacious family car. In addition to roominess, safety features are something every parent should keep in mind while researching family cars. Keep reading to learn what makes a vehicle car-seat friendly and what to look for at the dealership.
Family-Friendly Vehicle Features
Look for these features in your next family vehicle if you have one or more car seats.
Space for Car Seats and More
Not every family vehicle has enough cabin or seat space for multiple car seats. In addition, features like rigid seat belt buckles and overlapping seat belts make car seats harder to install. Look for flexible seat belt buckles that move out of the way to accommodate car seats, and avoid seat belts that span more than one position. If you have a large family and want a vehicle with multiple rows, bench seats—three seats in a row—fit car seats better than separate seats and receive higher safety ratings.
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Systems
An estimated three out of every four car seats are installed incorrectly. Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Systems make car seats easier to install using a system of metal bars and anchors. Find them in the vehicles you’re comparing as well as your child safety seats. Lower anchors help install the car seat by replacing the seatbelt, while tether anchors on forward-facing car seats provide additional protection for the head and spine and reduce the likelihood of spinal cord damage in an accident.
If you’re looking at three-row vehicles, LATCH compatibility is a must-have. A car that meets the government minimum requirements for LATCH includes three tether anchors and two lower anchors. Many three-row vehicles, even ones marketed towards families, only meet the government minimum requirements for LATCH and are lacking additional anchors and tethers. In the absence of a lower anchor, seat belts can be used to secure car seats, but every forward-facing seat where a kid will ride should include a tether for safety.
Pretensioners in the Rear Seat Belts
Look for a vehicle that has pretensioners in the rear seats to keep the little ones safe. Pretensioners are essential safety features that protect your passengers in the event of an accident. They reduce the likelihood of getting injured by retracting the seatbelt a few moments before the collision to keep the passenger in place. They also put pressure on the body at certain points to prevent the rider from colliding sideways with the car or falling out of their seat. Studies show that pretensioners are effective at preventing injuries in adults and children, but only one-third of all vehicles have pretensioners installed in the rear seats in addition to the front ones.
Now that you know what features to prioritize in a car-seat-friendly vehicle, you’re ready to take the next step in the car-buying process. Once you decide on a car and visit the dealership for a test drive, don’t leave the lot without affordable coverage for your new wheels. The General has a range of different policies for every driver, including drivers in the high-risk category and drivers with imperfect driving records. Visit our blog to learn more about auto insurance or get an insurance quote in under two minutes to see how much you can save.