ACRP Ambassador Program Now Accepting Applications

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) is now accepting applications for its ACRP Ambassador Program. Ambassadors attend airport industry conferences and events on behalf of ACRP to disseminate research products and enhance the program’s connection with the industry.

Selected through a competitive application process, Ambassadors help ACRP inform airport practitioners, managers, consultants, and executives on the wide variety of ACRP’s solution-based research products; encourage implementation of ACRP research; and promote participation in ACRP. Additional information on the ACRP Ambassador Program, including the guidelines and application, are available on the program’s website.

The deadline to apply for the 2017–2018 Ambassador Program is Friday, November 4, 2016.

This Summary Last Modified On: 9/29/2016


Read more: ACRP Ambassador Program Now Accepting Applications

LATCH ease-of-use ratings improve

ARLINGTON, Va. — Buckling precious cargo into a late-model vehicle has gotten a bit easier in the past year, the Institute's LATCH ease-of-use ratings show.

IIHS launched its ratings of child seat installation hardware in vehicles in June 2015. Out of 102 vehicles rated at that time, the majority were poor or marginal. Today, a total of 170 current models have been evaluated, and most are good or acceptable. Three models — the Audi Q7, the Lexus RX and the Toyota Prius — earn the top rating of good+, a distinction that no vehicle achieved last year.

A properly installed, age-appropriate child restraint can protect a child much better in a crash than a safety belt alone. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is intended to make it easier for caregivers to install child restraints properly. Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle safety belt, IIHS research has shown.

Even with LATCH, installation errors are common. The Institute's ratings are based on key ease-of-use criteria that have been shown to minimize mistakes.

"Frustrating child seat installations have become a familiar rite of parenthood," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer. "Unfortunately, these frustrations lead to mistakes that can have real consequences in the event of a crash. We're pleased to see automakers taking this issue seriously and making improvements in response to our ratings."

In the IIHS ratings system, LATCH hardware is considered good if it meets the following criteria:

  • The lower anchors are no more than ¾ inch deep within the seat bight or slightly deeper if there is open access around them.
  • The lower anchors are easy to maneuver around. This is defined as having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees.
  • The force required to attach a standardized tool representing a child seat connector to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds.
  • Tether anchors are on the vehicle's rear deck or on the top 85 percent of the seatback. They shouldn't be at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
  • The area where the tether anchor is found doesn't have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor. If other hardware is present, then the tether anchor must have a clear label located within 3 inches of it.

To earn a good rating, two LATCH positions in the second row must meet all five criteria, and a third tether anchor must meet both tether criteria.

The good+ rating is for vehicles that meet the criteria for a good rating and provide additional LATCH-equipped seating positions. For a two-row vehicle, that means having a third good or acceptable LATCH seating position. The third position may use either dedicated anchors or anchors borrowed from other positions. In many vehicles that have lower anchors in the second-row outboard seating positions, LATCH can be used in the center position by "borrowing" one anchor from each side. Some vehicles have one dedicated anchor for the center seat and rely on a borrowed anchor for the other side.

For a three-row vehicle to earn a good+ rating, it must have one additional good or acceptable LATCH position (without borrowing) and tether anchors in all rear seating positions. The additional tether anchors must meet at least one of the two tether anchor criteria. If the vehicle has a second-row center seating position, it must have good or acceptable LATCH there (with or without borrowing).

The good+ designation is intended to encourage manufacturers to give parents greater flexibility when seating children in a vehicle. 

"We're especially interested in making it possible for more parents to use LATCH in the second-row center position," Jermakian says. "Parents are repeatedly told that is the safest place for children to ride, so we want them to have the option of an easy installation there."

The second-row center is safest because it's far from the hard surfaces of the vehicle interior and from the striking vehicle in a side crash. However, a properly restrained child is very safe in any rear seating position.


Current LATCH ratings

2016 models unless otherwise noted
Listed rating is the highest available for the most popular seat covering within the vehicle class.

Good+
2017 Audi Q7 Lexus RX Toyota Prius
Good
2017 Audi A4 BMW 5 series Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Audi A6 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
BMW 2 series Mercedes-Benz E-Class Volkswagen Passat
Acceptable
Acura ILX Ford Flex Lexus GX 460
Acura MDX Ford Focus hatchback Lincoln MKX
Acura RDX Ford Focus sedan Lincoln MKZ
Audi A3 Ford Taurus Mazda 3 hatchback
Audi Q3 GMC Terrain Mazda 3 sedan
BMW X1 GMC Yukon XL Mazda CX-3
Buick Enclave Honda Accord sedan Mazda CX-5
Buick Encore Honda Civic sedan Mazda CX-9
2017 Cadillac XT5 Honda Civic coupe Mini Cooper Countryman
Chevrolet Cruze Limited Honda Odyssey Mitsubishi Outlander
Chevrolet Equinox Honda Pilot Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Chevrolet Impala 2017 Hyundai Elantra Nissan Juke
Chevrolet Malibu Limited 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Nissan Maxima
Chevrolet Spark 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Nissan Murano
Chevrolet Tahoe Hyundai Tucson Nissan Pathfinder
Chevrolet Traverse Hyundai Veloster Nissan Versa
Chevrolet Trax Jeep Cherokee Toyota Avalon
Chrysler 300 Jeep Compass Toyota Camry
Chrysler Town & Country Jeep Patriot Toyota Corolla
Dodge Challenger Kia Forte Toyota Sienna
built after 3/16
Dodge Dart Kia Optima Volkswagen Golf
Dodge Durango Kia Sedona Volkswagen Tiguan
Dodge Grand Caravan 2017 Kia Sorento Volvo S60
Ford Edge Kia Soul Volvo V60
Ford Expedition 2017 Kia Sportage Volvo XC90
Ford Explorer Lexus ES 350
built after 8/15
Marginal
Acura TLX 2017 Ford Fusion Nissan Quest
Audi Q5 Ford Mustang Nissan Rogue
BMW 3 series GMC Acadia Nissan Sentra
BMW X3 Honda Accord coupe Ram 1500 crew cab
BMW X5 Honda CR-V Ram 1500 extended cab
Buick Envision Honda HR-V Scion FR-S
Buick LaCrosse Hyundai Accent sedan Scion iA
Cadillac CTS Hyundai Genesis Subaru Crosstrek
Cadillac Escalade ESV Hyundai Sonata Subaru Forester
Cadillac SRX Infiniti QX60 Subaru Impreza
Chevrolet Camaro Jeep Grand Cherokee Subaru Legacy
Chevrolet Malibu Jeep Renegade Subaru Outback
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ext. cab Jeep Wrangler 2-door Subaru WRX
Chevrolet Sonic Jeep Wrangler 4-door Toyota 4Runner
Chevrolet Suburban Kia Rio Toyota Highlander
2017 Chevrolet Volt Lexus CT 200h Toyota Prius c
Chrysler 200 Lexus IS Toyota Prius v
built after 1/16
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
built after 8/2016
Lexus NX Toyota RAV4
Dodge Charger Lexus RC Toyota Tundra crew cab
built after 4/2016
Dodge Journey Lincoln Navigator Toyota Tundra extended cab
built after 2/2016
Fiat 500X Mazda 6 Volkswagen CC
Ford C-Max Hybrid Mini Cooper Volkswagen Jetta
2017 Ford Escape Nissan Altima Volvo XC60
Ford F-150 crew cab Nissan Frontier crew cab  
Ford F-150 extended cab Nissan Leaf  
Poor
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab Infiniti QX50
Ford Fiesta hatchback Hyundai Accent hatchback Subaru BRZ
Ford Fiesta sedan Infiniti Q70

Read more: LATCH ease-of-use ratings improve

Lincoln MKZ is Top Safety Pick+

ARLINGTON, Va. — The 2017 Lincoln MKZ earns the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, thanks to modifications to its front-end structure that boosted its small overlap front rating and an improved front crash prevention system.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The 2017 Lincoln MKZ earns the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, thanks to modifications to its front-end structure that boosted its small overlap front rating and an improved front crash prevention system.

The MKZ, a midsize luxury car, shares a platform with the Ford Fusion, whose Top Safety Pick+ designation was previously announced. Both cars had their front ends and bumpers modified to improve protection in frontal crashes. They now earn a good rating in the small overlap test, compared with an acceptable rating for earlier models.

Like the 2017 Fusion, the 2017 MKZ is available with an optional front crash prevention system that earns a superior rating. In IIHS track tests, the MKZ avoided collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph. It also has a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, the highest award from IIHS, a vehicle must have good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also must have an available front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

Read more: Lincoln MKZ is Top Safety Pick+

STATUS REPORT: Volume 51, Number 7

Buckling precious cargo into a late-model vehicle has gotten a bit easier in the past year, the Institute's LATCH ease-of-use ratings show.

IIHS launched its ratings of child seat installation hardware in vehicles in June 2015 (see Status Report special issue: LATCH ratings, June 18, 2015). Out of 102 vehicles rated at that time, the majority were poor or marginal. Today, a total of 170 current models have been evaluated, and most are good or acceptable. Three models — the Audi Q7, Lexus RX and Toyota Prius — earn the top rating of good+, a distinction that no vehicle achieved last year.

A properly installed, age-appropriate child restraint can protect a child much better in a crash than a safety belt alone. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is intended to make it easier for caregivers to install child restraints properly. Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle safety belt, IIHS research has shown (see "What makes LATCH easier to use? Parents reinforce lab findings of key vehicle design features," April 8, 2014).

Even with LATCH, installation errors are common. Research by IIHS and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute studied what kinds of mistakes were made with varying LATCH set-ups (see "Keys to better LATCH," April 12, 2012, and "Easy-to-spot anchors boost tether use," Feb. 20, 2014). This allowed researchers to identify key ease-of-use criteria that can minimize mistakes, and these criteria form the basis for the IIHS ratings.

"Frustrating child seat installations have become a familiar rite of parenthood," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer. "Unfortunately, these frustrations lead to mistakes that can have real consequences in the event of a crash. We're pleased to see automakers taking this issue seriously and making improvements in response to our ratings."

Ease-of-use criteria

In the IIHS ratings system, LATCH hardware is considered good if it meets the following criteria:

  • The lower anchors are no more than ¾ inch deep within the seat bight or slightly deeper if there is open access around them.
  • The lower anchors are easy to maneuver around. This is defined as having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees.
  • The force required to attach a standardized tool representing a child seat connector to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds.
  • Tether anchors are on the vehicle's rear deck or on the top 85 percent of the seatback. They shouldn't be at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
  • The area where the tether anchor is found doesn't have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor. If other hardware is present, then the tether anchor must have a clear label located within 3 inches of it.

Summary of 2016-17
LATCH ratings

good+ 3
good 9
acceptable 77
marginal 73
poor 8
total 170

The Audi Q7, Lexus RX and Toyota Prius are rated good+ for easy-to-use LATCH hardware and additional seating flexibility. No models earned the distinction in 2015.


To earn a good rating, two LATCH positions in the second row must meet all five criteria, and a third tether anchor must meet both tether criteria.

The good+ rating is for vehicles that meet the criteria for a good rating and provide additional LATCH-equipped seating positions. For a two-row vehicle, that means having a third good or acceptable LATCH seating position. The third position may use either dedicated anchors or anchors borrowed from other positions. In many vehicles that have lower anchors in the second-row outboard seating positions, LATCH can be used in the center position by "borrowing" one anchor from each side. Some vehicles have one dedicated anchor for the center seat and rely on a borrowed anchor for the other side.

For a three-row vehicle to earn a good+ rating, it must have one additional good or acceptable LATCH position (without borrowing) and tether anchors in all rear seating positions. The additional tether anchors must meet at least one of the two tether anchor criteria. If the vehicle has a second-row center seating position, it must have good or acceptable LATCH there (with or without borrowing).

The good+ designation is intended to encourage manufacturers to give parents greater flexibility when seating children in a vehicle.

"We're especially interested in making it possible for more parents to use LATCH in the second-row center position," Jermakian says. "Parents are repeatedly told that is the safest place for children to ride, so we want them to have the option of an easy installation there."

The second-row center is safest because it is far from the hard surfaces of the vehicle interior and from the striking vehicle in a side crash. However, a properly restrained child is very safe in any rear seating position.

How one automaker improved

Toyota Motor Corp. has two of the three vehicles with good+ ratings and none of the eight poor-rated models. That is a big improvement over last year, when it had three vehicles on the poor list.

Like other manufacturers, Toyota improved its LATCH ratings through a combination of small tweaks and big overhauls. The Toyota Sienna, which went from poor to acceptable, is an interesting case. The 2015 Sienna's poor rating was noteworthy because, as a minivan, the Sienna is often bought to ferry children around.

Toyota's first step was to add a better label for the Sienna's tether anchors. That nudged the minivan's rating up to marginal.

The next step was to open up access to the lower anchors by adjusting the seat trim and foam, says Jennifer Pelky, senior engineer in interior safety and crashworthiness at Toyota. Those changes reduced the force needed to attach the connectors, resulting in an overall rating of acceptable for Siennas built after March 2016.


Toyota made improvements to existing vehicles to earn better LATCH ratings.
The automaker also kept LATCH ease
of use in mind as it redesigned models.


The company also made changes to the Lexus ES, which went from poor to acceptable, and the Toyota Tundra extended cab, which improved to marginal.

The redesigned Prius, meanwhile, comes with an innovative approach to LATCH hardware. Locating the lower anchors so that they are not too deep within the seat is a particular challenge in sedans. Toyota solved it by carving out large openings around each anchor to give free access to the anchors. The openings are covered by a flap with a Velcro closure.

Creating those openings was a better option for the Prius than bringing the anchors further forward, Pelky says. Government regulations limit how far forward the anchors can be, and there are other considerations too, she noted.

"You can imagine that as an adult riding in that seat, if you feel a wire poking you in the back on even a short trip, it's going to make you fairly upset with your vehicle," Pelky says. "Of course, we put a great deal of effort into making sure our efforts meet the needs of our smallest passengers, our children, but we also need to keep those adults comfortable as well."

LATCH no label
LATCH tether anchor with label

The Toyota Sienna's anchors are at the very bottom of the seatback, near a lot of potentially confusing hardware. In the 2015 model (left), the problem was compounded by the lack of a clear label. In the 2016 Sienna (right), the tether anchors are in the same spot, but a new label makes them more obvious.

Prius

2016 Toyota Prius

Toyota used an innovative approach to allow better access to the lower anchors in the redesigned Prius. There are large openings around each lower anchor, and everything is covered by a flap with a Velcro closure.

Read more: STATUS REPORT: Volume 51, Number 7

RFP: Traffic Forecasting Accuracy Assessment Research


TRB's National Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP) has issued a request for proposals to analyze and improve the accuracy, reliability, and utility of project-level traffic forecasts. Proposals are due October 13, 2016.

This Summary Last Modified On: 8/31/2016


Read more: RFP: Traffic Forecasting Accuracy Assessment Research

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