The Top Tether, a third anchor point, is an anti-rotation device which ISOFIX child restraint systems include (as do the new i-Size seats) which secures the top part of the car seat to the vehicle and prevents it from tipping forward in a collision.
This anchorage ensures that the seat remains more stable in the event of a crash and more fully and effectively protects the child. They are easy-to-use, both for child car seats facing forward and for those facing backwards. The biggest problem with the Top Tether is that it is not necessarily used for every journey or is adjusted badly or simply not used at all. This has been established by a SafeKids study which also stresses that more than 60% of children traveling in ISOFIX seats facing forward are not being protected by this third anchor point.
This was also confirmed in an event organized to find out how parents, mothers and caregivers were putting their child in child restraint systems. Almost two thirds neglected to use the Top Tether when putting their children in forward-facing seats. This poses an enormous risk to the safety of young children, given that in a severe head-on collision the CRS can be ripped out of the seat, whilst using a third anchor means the forces would be more evenly distributed and the seat would remain in place in this type of accident.
As we have already discussed on other occasions, wrongly positioning a child restraint system is a serious road safety risk. If we lower our guard in terms of how we install a car seat the consequences will be dire. We can take a look at some of the consequences in the video accompanying this article). Therefore, it is crucial that you understand each child car seat model and type.
ISOFIX and i-Size child seats are specifically designed to minimize possible human error when being installed in the vehicle. However, this is not possible if the top tether is not in place, perhaps due to not knowing where to put it or how to adjust it. How can we find all this out? All we need to do is read the child car seat's installation manual or ask your retailer how to correctly install the seat. It is crucial to adjust and tighten this anchorage properly for maximum protection.
For additional assistance we recommend this comprehensive infographic from Safekids, which not only outlines the consequences of fitting the top tether incorrectly but also shows where this anchoring is most likely to be located in order to be properly installed. In addition, we cover the Top Tether and ISOFIX systems in this infographic: