New research by the RTA and insurers NRMA and RACV has shown that while the Federal Government's new child restraint laws may save lives and prevent serious injuries to young children, improper restraint installation or the wrong choice of restraint could lead to disaster.
“It’s important to get it right and make sure children are in the correct restraint and safe when travelling in vehicles. It’s simply not negotiable,” RACV Chief Engineer Vehicles, Michael Case said.
“In the past year in Victoria, 17 children under 16 years of age were killed when travelling in a vehicle. RACV research has shown that about two-thirds of child restraints are not fitted properly."
As part of the 2010 Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) - the first since the new laws were enacted on July 1 - the group tested 44 restraints in three categories: rearward-facing restraints for babies, forward-facing restraints for young children six months to four years and booster seats for older children aged four to seven years.
Using a five-star rating system, the testing included three separate sled tests on a crash sled (as used by ANCAP in its crash safety testing), with test dummies secured in restraints and subjected to a forward impact test and two different side impact tests.
The ease-of-use tests rated how easily the child restraints could be installed and also rated how easily children could be secured.
None of the restraints tested achieved the optimum five stars but several in the rearward-facing restraint category and booster seats category achieved four.
Four stars in the rearward-facing restraints category were given to the Baby Safety Capsule Safe-N-Sound, the Compaq Safe-N-Sound and the Strider DLX Infant Carrier (Steelcraft) for their protection rating. The ease of use rating for these three restraints was three stars.
In the forward-facing restraint category, Comfi-Cruiser (Infa-Secure), Marathon (Cargo), Maxi Rider AHR (Safe-N-Sound) and Senator (Hipod) all achieved three stars, with two stars for ease of use.
Vario Kid (Infa-Secure) rated four stars for protection and three for ease-of-use in the booster seat category.
The full CREP test results and brochure (PDF file) can be found at the RACV website.