In recent years, both the RACV and CHOICE magazine have been separately involved in the testing and reporting on child restraints for ‘Buyers Guide’ reports. From our point of view, as a supplier of products and services, the results are often controversial.
Sometimes there are products that are not included in the testing. Any implications that excluded products have not been certified to the latest AS1754 standard casts’ unnecessary concerns of their safety to current owners and users. Additionally, omissions limit the validity of such reporting and can lead the public to other unfounded conclusions.
As an example a previous report had a booster product nominated as a ‘preferred buy’ that may have provided better protection under certain circumstances but not necessarily been the most suitable for the smaller ‘entry level’ child, or at all suitable to vehicles from a seat belt length aspect. Additionally in the past a product has been nominated as offering the best performance but has not been available for retail purchase.
We fear this may happen again with the latest RACV, NRMA, RTA, report released July 2006. It certainly has a number of issues that concern us. The Safe and Sound, Baby Safety capsule, the Series 3 car seat and the Hi Pod booster are all excellent products, but we are surprised that the ‘infant to child’ convertible restraint category was not handled with more consideration. Yes, they can be more complicated to use and often misunderstood, therefore scoring lower in this most recent of tests. Unfortunately, the fact that many ‘infant to child’ convertible restraints offer rearward facing protection up to 12 Kgs (850mm length) has been largely ignored. Rearward facing is a much safer aspect in which to travel, a fact widely recognized throughout Europe and we certainly ask why wasn’t this important aspect mentioned? As a large percentage of all restraint products sought after are of this type, we find it quite an over-sight in such a report.
Also advice concerning centre seat belt position, child safety harness and booster use has been presented in a way that can be misconstrued. The advice on fitment issues mentions upper tether adjustment checks everyday? Excellent and pertinent advice for infant restraint products, but disregards one of the most common day-to-day misuse issues, which is a disconnected seat belt buckle. This common error affects all child restraint use.
Reference to Child Seats being designed for babies and toddlers from 9 to 18 Kgs restraints only confuses the public, when the standard is from 8 Kgs. Yes we agree 9 Kgs is better ‘entry level’ advice, but it was not presented in that way. Confusion is a word often associated with child restraints; we certainly don’t need to be contributing to it.
Baby Safety Capsules, Toddler Car seats, Boosters, harness systems and Convertible or Multiple use products all have to deliver the goods in many more ways that sterile collision conditions. They also have to be compatible with the vehicle and any other restraint products that a family is likely to be using. When choosing, take on board all the information and decide on total requirements met.
At CRFM we aim to provide safe, sensible, working solutions based on decades of experience in real family vehicles and environments and more importantly, family vehicle inspection programs, not laboratories.