Not. Good. Enough.
Testing was carried out on six child restraints as part of a joint testing program by Transport for NSW, the NRMA, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Transport Accident Commission, VicRoads, Kidsafe Australia and RACQ.
The seats were tested in seven modes and scored on both safety and how easy they were to use.
Guess how may restraints scored the full five stars?
And just two of the six seats scored four stars.
One test resulted in the test dummy actually being ejected from the child car seat for the first time in the last 25 years of testing. It’s super worrying considering parents would expect safety to be improving year-on-year, not being reduced.
It’s also worth noting that these car restraints are a big investment. With that investment, you’d expect a high level of safety compliance. But apparently this is not always the case.
Standards and safety are at odds
The Child Restraint Evaluation Program’s (CREP) — the program which tests child car seats for safety – is now being updated to allow them to give a zero rating to restraints that fail their testing.
The ACCC and Standards Australia have also been notified of the results of this new round of testing because all the tested restraints complied with the Australian Standard — even the one that ejected the child dummy.
The Australian Standard for car seats means they provide prescribed minimum levels of safety, but that clearly doesn’t mean that they provide optimal safety. It’s something most parents will not be aware of and flags how important it is that parents research car seats thoroughly before investing.
Thankfully CREP puts the child car seats through more rigorous testing than the tests for the mandatory standard. CREP’s tests more accurately show how the restraints may perform in a crash.
The Joie I-Travvel was a huge fail
The problem seat, according to the NRMA, is the Joie i-Travvel. You can watch what happened when that car seat was involved in a simulated crash in the video above.
“The Joie i-Travvel was tested in both seatbelt and ISOfix mode. For the first time since CREP commenced in 1992 the dummy was ejected during crash testing in ISOfix forward-facing mode,” the NRMA explained in a press release today.
The Joie I-Travvel has been on sale in Australia for almost 12 months, and the NRMA wants to alert parents to its risk of failure in an accident.
As you can see (below) it received a 1 star rating, but could be in line for a zero star rating once the ranking system is updated to allow it. Here’s hoping the company addresses these safety issues before that happens.
“A child restraint that doesn’t restrain a dummy just doesn’t cut it,” NRMA’s Road Safety Expert, Dimitra Vlahomitros said.
“These tests demonstrate once again that not all car seats are created equal and the manufacturer needs to lift its game.”
Performance over price and aesthetics
Dimitra has a clear message for all families who are in the market for a child restraint for their car.
“Choosing the correct child seat could be a lifesaving decision so it is critical parents make their purchase based on performance and ease of use rather than price or aesthetics,” she says.
“A new safety protocol is now in place to ensure that manufacturers that under-deliver in future tests to the standards the NRMA expects for its Members will get called out – we do not want restraints shooting dummies out of the seat.”
Which car seats are the safest?
Go to www.childcarseats.com.au to view the updated crash ratings and compare child restraints for safety.