The top marks given to the Ezy Boost (Babylove) model for crash protection brings to four the total of five-star restraints. Of the 139 tested, none have been given the highest rating for ease of use, which experts said was vital to ensure it was used correctly.
Professor Lynne Bilston, who led the development of national child restraint guidelines, said all of those sold in Australia must meet minimum safety standards.
“If someone has a restraint that is really hard to use, and they don’t always adjust it properly that makes a very big difference, up to a seven times higher risk of serious injury,” Professor Bilston of Neuroscience Research Australia said.
To be awarded a five-star safety rating under the child restraint evaluation program (CREP), restraints must demonstrate good performance in all aspects including “its ability to prevent the child’s head and body from contacting the vehicle’s structure directly and absorb the contact force in the event of a crash”, a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.
“CREP has provided feedback to all manufacturers on how to improve their products. The most common issue that makes restraints hard to use is the design to adjust the harness to suit the child occupying the restraint.”
Michelle Reid used a professional fitting service to ensure 10-month-old Sophia’s seat was correctly installed.
“It is not that easy and it is definitely something you don’t want to get wrong,” Ms Reid said.
Professor Bilston urged parents to use the CREP website which compares restraints that may be marketed under different names with different padding and covering.
A study found children whose parents use an authorised fitting station were nearly two times more likely to be correctly restrained.
Around 70 children die while travelling as car passengers each year and 1500 are serious injured.
NATIONAL CHILD RESTRAINT GUIDELINES:
Rear-facing seats for babies for as long as they fit in the seat. Once they’re too big, use forward-facing restraint with six-point harness.
When they outgrow front-facing seat, move to a booster with lap-sash seatbelt until they’re big enough to use an adult belt.
Children under 12 are safest in the rear seat.