Measures to help fix child seat issues may soon be legal

ABOUT 70% of child seats are installed incorrectly.

Research by the nation's motoring clubs have found the installation issues can be major and minor, but nonetheless some mistakes can be life-threatening if involved in an accident.

Potentially life-saving anchorage points that help eliminate fitment errors could soon be legal in Australia.

Isofix has been approved in Europe for more than 15 years but has not been adopted Down Under despite being available in many European cars.

Standards Australia is expected to give a green light to the system in the coming weeks.

Holden has preempted the decision by installing the ridged lower anchorage points to its new VF Commodore.

Isofix includes a pair of brackets attached to the car's frame beneath the back seat. The child seat clicks into place at the base and also requires a top tether strap to another point (in Europe a floor-mounted prop is used).

Child car seats on sale in Australia currently do not have the Isofix attachment facility.

While many see the move as a positive one, Alexia Lennon, the senior lecturer at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (Queensland), has mixed feelings.

She said Isofix was "not a sliver bullet".

"If installed correctly, people will still get the same level of protection from a non-Isofix type of restraint," Dr Lennon said.

"Our current system is not sub-standard in any way."

The sentiment is shared across the industry.

Australian Automobile Association executive director Andrew McKellar said most importantly it will provide parents with an attachment choice.

"The main benefit of Isofix is there should be a reduction in the incidence of incorrect installation of child seats because the connectors provide confirmation that it is correctly latched," he said.

"Child restraints with Isofix connectors can only be used in vehicles fitted with Isofix anchorages and not all vehicles have that technology so make sure you research it correctly.

"A downside of the location of Isofix anchorages means a vehicle can generally only allow two child restraints to be fitted across the rear seat of a car, whereas the current system of using seat belts may fit three."

Steve Spalding, the RACQ's executive manager of technical and safety policy, said "If in doubt have someone else which has the experience fit the seat".

Automobile clubs across Australia offer the installation service along with a range of other professional outlets.



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