Australia has caught up to be rest of the world by finally adopting the safer ISOFIX child restraint system.
In the same move it has leapfrogged most other countries, ensuring our youngest passengers are better protected than anywhere in the world with the compulsory use of top-tether straps on all child restraints.
Standards Australia has confirmed a revision to the official standard for child restraints in both Australia and New Zealand (officially labelled AS/NZS 1754:2013) that allows the sale and use of ISOFIX child seats in Australia, the international standard style of seats.
The seats provide added security for parents by attaching directly to the car through locking mechanisms, but must still be secured by a top tether strap.
The locking mechanisms make sure the child seats are correctly secured each time they're used and drastically reduce movement in both side and frontal impact crashes. They're also much more convenient to attach and remove than the current method of securing a seat belt through the back of the child restraint.
The use of seat-belt secured child restraints will still be applicable under the revised Australian Standards.
“The revised standard maintains rigorous Australian requirements for restraining children in vehicles, but now allows ISOFIX-compatible lower attachment connectors to be included as an additional option in the design of certain types of child restraints”, said Colin Blair, Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia.
“Unlike some overseas systems, the standard will still require the use of top tether straps for child restraints, in addition to the mechanism for attaching the seat to the car at its base. The use of a top tether strap has been a requirement of the standard since it was first published."
ISOFIX systems are already featured in most imported vehicles sold in Australia. Holden pre-empted the revised Standard by ensuring that its VF Commodore range, which went on sale this week, is the first locally produced car fitted with the improved latching system.
Standards Australia has also made provisions for infants to remain in rear-facing child restraints for longer - now up to 30-months old -and its testing methods have been revised to include a world-first method to cater for low birth weight infants. The test will involve a new 2kg dummy, half the weight of the smallest used anywhere in the world.
See what essential Baby members have to say about the changes - and add your voice to the discussion - in the forum, or comment below.