Latest results reveal not all child restraints created equal

Thursday January 24, 2019: Parents are being encouraged to arm themselves with the right information before buying a child restraint, as the latest round of Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) results are released ahead of the start of the new school year.

The NRMA and its partner organisations, including Kidsafe NSW, today announced results for nine child restraints which were scored on safety and ease of use. Not one scored five stars; one seat scored less than two stars for protection; and four booster seats scored more than four stars for protection.

All restraints tested comply with the Australian Standard, however there is a vast difference in the quality of protection they offer.

NRMA’s Road Safety Expert, Dimitra Vlahomitros, said choosing the correct child seat was a crucially important decision to make.

“A car seat is one of the first and last pieces of baby equipment a parent will purchase that will be used every day for several years, and can be one of the most important,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

The top scoring booster seat in the most recent testing retails for $99. Many other boosters previously tested with lower safety ratings can retail for upwards of $500.

Ms Vlahomitros said parents needed to do some research if they wanted to find the safest and most affordable restraints, not rely on product marketing.

“You can actually score a bargain and score a safe seat by looking around,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“Safety doesn’t come at a price and these results show us that the most expensive seat isn’t often the safest.”

While product choice remained important, so too did ensuring a child was using the correct seat for as long as possible and until they can’t fit properly into an adult seat belt.

Kidsafe NSW promotes child injury prevention and conducts education programs for community groups who often transport children, as well as vulnerable groups and those who speak English as a second language.

Christine Erskine, Kidsafe NSW Executive Officer, said parents always wanted to do the right thing but often just weren’t sure.

“One of the most common grey areas is when to graduate a child into a booster seat or into an adult seat,” Ms Erskine said.

“When kids see their peers sitting in adult seats they start pestering their parents to let them do the same, but we ask parents and carers to be strong and explain to children how important it is to stay safe, and not give into that pester power.”

CREP ratings also assess seats on ease of use, which Ms Erskine said was very helpful for families or community groups who share responsibilities.

“Some parents and carers might be reluctant to move seats around. But if the seat comes with a high ease of use rating, it helps people share school pick-ups and drop offs with peace of mind that the children are safely secured,” Ms Erskine said.

CREP is a partnership between Transport for NSW, the NRMA, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Transport Accident Commission Victoria, VicRoads and Kidsafe Australia.

CREP Child Restraint Ratings

NRMA tips for purchasing a car seat:

  • Go to www.childcarseats.com.au to find out the crash rating and compare child restraints
  • Shop around to find the right price
  • Ensure your seat is professionally installed, and ask the installer to show you how to do it yourself in case it needs to be moved from car to car
  • Be wary of purchasing a second hand seat: make sure you know its full history; check the manufacturer’s sticker to make sure it is less than 10 years old; don’t use if straps or harness are frayed; and check for any obvious signs of wear or tear
  • Familiarise yourself with the national Child Restraint Laws