Recently the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) released footage showing a car seat that ‘catastrophically failed’ a safety test. It was confronting to watch the test dummy fly out of the seat, and for many parents this is an image that will linger.
However, I tend to think that distressing as the footage was, it does demonstrate how rigorous and effective the Australian system of testing really is.
There is nothing on the market in this country that has not had to go through this sort of testing. In other words, no matter your budget, you can have confidence that a capsule or car seat with the AU/NZ standards sticker on it will provide substantial protection for your child in the event of a crash.
Australian standards are among the very highest in the world, to ensure that your child restraint will still provide protection in some of the most challenging driving conditions on the planet. Testing is designed to replicate crashes that may occur due to our unique driving conditions.
Extreme distances, dirt roads, excessive heat and numerous other factors are all considered in the design and testing process. Australian seats are uniquely required to have top tether straps, to have a rebound prevention feature (stabilising bar), and to be tested for both side impact and rollover crashes.
However, a seat as only as good as the person operating it. The majority of children are in seats with some combination of poor fitting, incorrect adjusting, loose harnessing and inappropriate sizing. There is simply no downside to having your car seats checked.
If they need fixing, have them fixed because near enough is nowhere near good enough at 60km/hr.
So perhaps let this shocking footage prompt you to look at how things are in your own car. Because odds are, it’s not the seat that is the problem.
WHEN IT REALLY MATTERS, TALK TO THE EXPERTS
*Child Restraint Evaluation Program