7 JUNE, 2013
Parents and carers will soon have another option when choosing a child restraint, with changes announced by Standards Australia today.
From 7 June 2013, the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754) provides an option for manufacturers to produce ISOFIX compatible child restraints for the Australian market.
VicRoads Director Vehicle and Road Use Policy, James Holgate, said parents should not be confused about the reason for the introduction of ISOFIX restraints.
“We would like to reassure parents that the current restraints on the Australian market are very safe - the ISOFIX compatible restraints are not being introduced as a result of any concerns with the current child restraints, which have all passed Australia's stringent testing regime,” Mr Holgate said.
“ISOFIX compatible child restraints will simply provide an alternative method for attaching a child restraint to a vehicle, without the need for using the vehicle seatbelt.”
ISOFIX compatible child restraints will have connectors which attach to ISOFIX anchors in those vehicles that have ISOFIX anchors. The child restraint also has a top tether strap which must be used.
"While we welcome ISOFIX compatible child restraints to the Australian/New Zealand Standards, it's important to point out that Australia has the most stringent standards for child restraints in the world,” Mr Holgate said.
“We are the only country in the world which requires side impact testing and the use of a top tether strap on all ISOFIX compatible child restraints.”
Liz Waller, TAC Road Safety Manager said ISOFIX-compatible child restraints will require testing to meet the new standards that have been released today.
“Testing still needs to be done before they can be sold in Australia. Anything that encourages parents to restrain their children correctly will help save lives and ISOFIX offers parents another option,” Ms Waller said.
Melinda Congiu, Manager Road User Behaviour at RACV said that RACV is supportive of changes to Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints and reminded parents that they still need to ensure they are fitting the restraint correctly.
“ISOFIX is designed for its easy installation into vehicles, however parents and carers need to continue to take care when fitting and using child restraints as there is potential for incorrect use of all child restraints, including ISOFIX compatible child restraints,” Ms Congiu said.
Mr Holgate said ISOFIX compatible restraints are also likely to be more expensive than current restraints.
It is important to remember that child restraints from overseas, including ISOFIX compatible child restraints, are illegal to use in Australia. Only child restraints that comply with the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints are legal for use in Australia.
ISOFIX compatible child restraints are not expected to be available for purchase in Australia for many months.
To help parents and carers choose the safest child restraint, it is recommended to choose a child restraint or booster seat that has been independently tested by the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP). CREP provides star ratings for crash protection and ease of use for a wide range of child restraints and booster seats. As ISOFIX compatible child restraints become available, they will be included in the CREP testing.
CREP is supported by VicRoads, the Transport Accident Commission of Victoria (TAC), the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), Transport for NSW, NRMA Motoring and Services and the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RACWA).
To find out more about CREP and to view Frequently Asked Questions about ISOFIX, visit www.CREP.com.au
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