Red tape keeps Isofix child restraints out of cars

UNFORTUNATELY the wheels of vehicles involved in accidents don't move as slowly as government process.

Standards Australia gave the green light to a potentially life-saving child seat anchorage system last month, but final approval is now sitting with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Isofix restraints are now unlikely to be available until later this year, or early 2014.

The "click in" restraint system is widely used around the world and has been operation in Europe for more than 15 years.

Australian automotive clubs research has found about 70% of child seats are installed incorrectly using the current top tether and seat belt routing technique. While that includes minor errors, Isofix helps reduce faults as the seat bases click into place using brackets attached to the car body.

Experts agree the existing system is still safe, but Isofix will help address some issues.

While the authorities all agree the current restraint system is equally as good, Holden crash footage proves otherwise.

During testing, a current Australian standard car seat was correctly installed while the Isofix system was also used. The differences were stark.

While the Isofix child remained relatively set in place, the  child in the current restraint was severely impacted.

Holden recently released its VF Commodore which features Isofix.

"We're disappointed that this existing child restraint technology may not be available in 2013 when Australian Design Rules and Standards Australia approvals have already taken place," said Steve Curtis, Holden's engineering group manager for vehicle structure and safety systems

"We view Isofix as an important safety feature that all Australian families should benefit from, which is why we're included Isofix in all our new models, including the 2013 VF Commodore."

A spokesperson for the ACCC said a consultation paper will be published later this year.

Complete reviews of a mandatory standard take several months.

"The ACCC regulates the supply of the child restraints as opposed to their legal use. Laws governing the use of child restraints are administered (where applicable) by state and territory road traffic authorities," a statement from the ACCC said.

"Whether these use laws are changed following the review of the mandatory standard is at the discretion of the relevant RTAs."



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