ISOFIX child restraints


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ISOFIX child restraints

After a long wait the ISOFIX system, which offers parents an advanced option for securing their child safely in a vehicle, has been included in the Australian Standard for child restraints and will soon be available nationwide.

The ISOFIX system, a type of child restraint system, has been in use in Canada, the United States and Europe since the early 2000si. The protection system will now be available in Australia due to amendments in the Australian Standard for child restraints, offering parents an alternative restraint option to the normal seatbelt and tether system.

The ISOFIX system offers more choice for Australian parents and carers.

The design of the ISOFIX system differs from the normal seatbelt and tether system because it uses two low-anchorage bars, fitted to the area between the vehicle's seat backrest and seat cushion. These anchorage points are where the ISOFIX compatible child restraint is attached to in order to secure the child restraint to the vehicleii. In this way, the restraint is actually connected to the car seat, minimising potential movement in the event of an accidentii. The revised Australian version of the ISOFIX system also includes a compulsory top-tether strap as an extra security measure, which should be attached to the car's anchorage point, usually found in the roof or the boot of the vehicle.

Safety benefits

In both frontal and side impact crash tests, the ISOFIX system was found to reduce the impact on the child, minimising the risk of spinal and head injuryiii. This is because in the ISOFIX system, the child restraint is firmly secured to the actual seat of the vehicle at three points - the two low-anchorage points and the top-tether anchorage point, which therefore lessens the forward and side tipping movement of the seat in the event of an accident.

To take advantage of the complete ISOFIX system, your car must be ISOFIX compatible, meaning that it is manufactured with ISOFIX anchorage points, and you must use an ISOFIX compatible child restraint. Many imported cars sold in Australia and some locally manufactured vehicles feature ISOFIX low anchorage pointsiv. The Holden VF Commodore, Toyota Corollav, Nissan Pathfindervi are just a few examples of ISOFIX compatible vehicles currently available for purchase in Australia.

Installation

An example of ISOFIX anchorage points where the ISOFIX compatible restraint slots into.

Recent research conducted in Australia has found that incorrect placement during installation of the car seat belt accounts for 25 per cent of function failure for non-ISOFIX forward-facing child restraints and 10 per cent of function failure in non-ISOFIX rearward-facing child restraintsvii.

The ISOFIX system is designed to make installing the child restraint faster and easierii, as the restraint clicks into the ISOFIX anchorage points on the car seat, rigidly securing the child restraint to the vehicle. As with all child restraints, it is very important to ensure that the ISOFIX restraint is installed correctly. Mistakes can still be made so it's important to check with a professional how to correctly install the ISOFIX compatible child restraint into your vehicle. It's also important to make sure that the child restraint is the right size for your child and is properly fitted, adjusted and fastened when the child is in the seat.

ISOFIX in Australia

In Australia, it is illegal to use an ISOFIX compatible child restraint from overseas, as the design has not been approved for useii. Since ISOFIX compatible child restraints are still being tested to facilitate Australian safety requirements, they are not yet widely available but are expected to be released on the market soonii.


iBeissmann, T. 2013, 'ISOFIX child restraint system approved for use in Australia', Car Advice, viewed 15 September 2014,
http://www.caradvice.com.au/234902/isofix-child-restraint-system-approved-for-use-in-australia/

iiBober, I. 2014, 'ISOFIX. Why is Australia still waiting?', Practical Motoring, 19 June, viewed 8 September 2014,
http://practicalmotoring.com.au/car-advice/isofix-australia-still-waiting/

iiiBrown, J., Griffiths, M. and Paine, M. 2002, 'Effectiveness of child restrains the Australian experience, Research Report RR 06/02', ,ANCAP, viewed 15 September 2014,
http://mpainesyd.com/filechute/CRS_effectiveness_Australi.pdf

ivMurrell, P. 2013, 'Isofix child seats finally available in Australia', Practical Motoring, 27 November, viewed 8 September 2014,
http://practicalmotoring.com.au/blogs/isofix-child-seats-finally-available-australia/

vToyota Corolla, Features -– Seats, viewed 8 September 2014,
http://www.toyota.com.au/corolla/features/sedan/interior/seats

viNissan, In detail - the Nissan Pathfinder, the next generation family SUV, arrives in Australia, viewed 8 September 2014,
http://www.nissan.com.au/Discover/News/2013/October/31/IN-DETAIL-THE-NISSAN-PATHFINDER-THE-NEXT-GENERATION-FAMILY-SUV-ARRIVES-IN-AUSTRALIA

viiBrown, J., Hatfield, J., Du, W., Finch C.F., Bilston L.E. 2010, 'The characteristic of incorrect restraint use among children travelling in cars in New South Wales, Australia', Traffic Injury Prevention, August 2010, 11 (4), p 391-8, viewed 8 September 2014,
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20730686