Road accidents are the major cause of deaths in children under 14 years, and research has found about 60% of children are incorrectly restrained in their seats. Common errors can involve the tether strap not being connected, the seatbelt incorrectly threaded or not buckled, or the anchorage point being used the wrong way.
Fitting your restraint
If you’re going to install the seat yourself make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but it’s certainly worthwhile visiting an authorised fitting station. These centres (listed on your state’s motoring organisation website) have experts that can inspect, adjust or fully install your restraint for a small fee. By using a restraint that’s correctly installed, you can significantly reduce the risk to your child in an accident.
Our tester and female triallist assessed 10 convertible child car restraints that are suitable from birth to four years of age, and most state a maximum weight of 18kg.
You must place your baby in the rearward-facing mode while they’re under six months old; then between six and 12 months (depending on their size), the restraint can be converted to the forward-facing mode where your child will stay until they are at least four years old.
The Australian Standard and CREP
All seats sold in Australia must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754 which covers requirements for the design, construction, performance, user instructions, marking and packaging of child car restraints. The standard was last amended in May 2011 where an earlier 1995 version of the standard was removed and replaced with the 2010 version. Therefore the mandatory standard is now based on the 2000, 2004 and 2010 versions of the standard.
The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) funded by government, and motoring organisations allow you to see which restraints go beyond the requirements of the standard. The program conducts simulated crash tests on restraints to provide consumers with information about the level of occupant protection in a crash as well as assessing how easy they are to ease. A rating (out of five) is then applied to all tested seats.
What's the law?
New rules rolled out in 2010 give children greater protection when travelling.
- Under six months Children must be seated in a rearward-facing child restraint or infant capsule.
- Six months to four years old Children are to use a rear- or forward-facing car restraint with an inbuilt harness. Children under four years old can’t travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
- Four to seven years Children are to use a forward-facing restraint or booster seat.
- If all back seats are occupied by children under four, a child between four and seven can occupy the front seat in a forward-facing restraint or booster seat.
- If your child is too tall or heavy for their age group’s restraint you can move them to the next restraint.
Keep an eye out for upcoming CHOICE reviews on forward-facing restraints and booster seats.
- Babylove Ezy Switch Charcoal BL72A/2010
- Go Safe Cleo 4790
- Infa-Secure Cosi-Safe CS40CS
- Infa-Secure Style-Rider CS41SR
- Mother's Choice Emperor #009802
- Mother's Choice Carrera #008730
- Safety 1st DB2010 Car Seat Nero GT #11657
- Safe-N-Sound Meridian AHR Tilt&Adjust Head Rest 3509
- Safe-N-Sound Platinum AHR Air Cushion 3515
- ZuZu GS2010 Car Seat Lexington #011693
How we test
Ease of use Our tester, Peter Horvath, assessed each seat on fitting in both rearward and forward facing modes, clarity of instructions, adjustment of the seatbelt and buckles, ease of tilting and removing the seat and removing the cover for cleaning. He also asked a female to assess each seat for ease of use and took into consideration her comments.
We were unable to conduct performance tests on these seats however all the seats in this test must pass the Australian Standard to be sold which has a performance aspect in it. We are hoping that CREP results will become available later in the year which we can add to this review to give some more information on how they perform.
For more information on child restraints, or to find your nearest fitting station, contact:
Kidsafe Australia: www.kidsafe.com.au