snifter

Car seats in Australia - What you need to know

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    AUGUST 15 2012 - NEWS UPDATE ON AUS STANDARDS

     

     

    You can download the draft HERE . You need to register and then download the PDF.

     

    From a Britax press release -

     

    On the 13th August 2012, Standards Australia released a draft of the revised Child Restraints Standard AS/NZS1754. The draft introduces a number of significant changes to the way Australian and New Zealand children will be restrained in cars in the future.

     

     

    The key changes in the draft include:

     

    * Child restraints will be made available in Australia that include lower attachment connectors allowing them to be engaged with ISOFIX low anchorages available in many cars. This new category is similar to systems offered overseas. As with all Australian child restraints, the upper tether strap is required for use;

    * A new category of child restraints will be introduced to the Australian market, allowing most children to stay rear facing up to approximately two to three years of age;

    * A new category of child restraint with an in-built harness for children from approximately six months up to eight to ten years of age will be introduced. Previously restraints with an in-built harness have only been available for children up to approximately four years of age;

    * Introduction of testing and defining child restraints that are suitable for babies that are of low birth weight or premature, and

    Introduction of marking of child restraints suitable for aircraft travel.

     

    The draft will be open for industry, government and consumers to review and comment until the 16th October 2012. Once the standard is approved for publication, expected to be early next year, Britax will endeavor to certify and release restraints that are compatible with ISOFIX low anchorages and within the new requirements of the standard. (Source Britax/Safe n Sound).

     

     

    ********

     

     

    I thought this would a useful thread to have as there are difference in car seat regulations between the UK/EU and Australia. This is all taken from my online research. Thought I'd share my findings :D

     

    Many people making the move to Australia are not aware that their UK car seats are not legal in Australia. Even if they have the latest, newest and highest rated UK/EU car seat, it won't matter a jot. It will be illegal to use in a car in Australia.

     

    Only car seats approved and passed by Aussie standards are legal. Australia also uses a top tether for securing their car seats which the UK do not.

     

    So what do you need to know

     

    Child restraint laws

     

    South Australia's child restraint laws can be read here - http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Transport%2C+travel+and+motoring/Road+safety/Seatbelts+and+child+restraints/South+Australia's+child+restraint+laws

     

    National child restraint laws were introduced in South Australia on 1 July 2010 to help protect children in the event of a crash. Enforcement penalties apply from 1 October 2010.

     

    Children need different restraints as they grow. Nothing else offers the same level of crash protection for babies and young children as a properly fitted child restraint. To provide maximum safety benefits, the restraint must match the size of the child and be properly installed and adjusted to fit the child's body.

     

    From birth, children start with a rear-facing infant restraint, progress to a forward-facing child safety seat and finally graduate to a booster seat before using an adult seatbelt when they are tall enough.

     

    * Child restraints - up to six months - http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Transport%2C+travel+and+motoring/Road+safety/Seatbelts+and+child+restraints/Child+restraints+-+up+to+six+months

     

    5824723415_ea2ee173be_m.jpg

     

    Children up to 6 months old must use an approved rearward-facing infant restraint and must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats.

     

    The restraint must be properly installed and adjusted to fit the child's body.

     

    A rearward-facing infant restraint allows a child to lie down and, in a crash, gives support and protection to the head and neck - the most vulnerable parts of a child’s body.

     

    Child restraints - four to seven years - http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Transport%2C+travel+and+motoring/Road+safety/Seatbelts+and+child+restraints/Child+restraints+-+four+to+seven+years

     

    5824723399_426a5fe44e_m.jpg

     

    Children in this age group must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats unless all the other back seats are occupied by children who are also under seven years.

     

    Children may use either an approved forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness, or an approved booster seat with either a lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness.

     

    If you are using a seating position with a lap-only seatbelt, you must also use a child safety harness.

     

    The restraint must be properly installed and adjusted to fit the child's body.

     

    Child restraints - seven years and older - http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Transport%2C+travel+and+motoring/Road+safety/Seatbelts+and+child+restraints/Child+restraints+-+seven+years+and+older - Click link to read.

    Also please view this webpage to get an idea of a child safety harness for older children no longer needing a car seat - Scroll down the page to the last couple of photos - http://www.childrestraints.co.nz/australia.php

     

     

    Car seat safety test findings from CREP (Child Restraint Evaluation Program)

     

    This is the body that tests car seats on the Australian market. It has safety ratings for all types of seats. Click on the appropriate age group to view the results. Be aware some of these car seats are no longer available and newer models have been brought out. Also they are not the be all and end all in terms of testing and you should always take into account other information, test results and so on also.

     

    http://www.crep.com.au/crep-results.php#

     

     

    What type of car seat do I need to be looking at?

     

    Capsule/Infant carrier - From birth to 9 months/1 year 9 or 12kg (depending on car seat limits) These are rear facing car seats.

    Convertible car seat - Suitable from birth, rear facing from birth to weight/size limit then forward facing till 4 years

    Forward facing car seats - 6 months - 4 years

    Booster seats - 4-7 years of age. Both harnessed and seatbelt fitted

     

    A few other things -

     

    * Britax is called Safe n Sound in Australia. They sell their car seats nationally. There website is here - http://www.britax.com.au/

     

    * Maxi Cosi is Maxi Cosi - They currently don't appear to have an Australian website but you can find their car seats for sale online or in stores in Australia.

     

    * There is also Facebook group for car seat safety in Adelaide. Adelaide Kids In Cars Very helpful car seat experts who are more than happy to help answer your questions and more.

     

    * Extended rear facing (from 1-4 years of age) is not yet available in Australia. Britax is planning to design and test an extended rear facing car seat in the not too distant future. You can find various groups on Facebook if you are interested in learning more about this. They are

     

    Australian Parents for Rear Facing Car Restraints to 18 kg

     

    Rear-Facing Down Under

     

    Bring Extended Rearfacing To Australia

     

    * The Australia system uses the top tether. If you import a UK car you'll need to install tether points for fitting your Aussie car seats properly.

     

    * Isofix is not yet legal in Australia. It has however passed a few hurdles and is currently waiting for final approval to enable car seat manufacturers to begin making and testing car seats fitted using Isofix (or the Aussie equivalent if they use the top tether also still). UPDATE July 29 2011 - Isofix is coming to Australia in 2013 - Read more HERE

     

    * Please view this webpage to get an idea of a child safety harness for older children no longer needing a car seat - Scroll down the page to the last couple of photos - http://www.childrestraints.co.nz/australia.php

     

    Feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer.

     

    :D

    Edited by snifter
    Added in new info

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    Guest Viksta

    Thanks so much for this useful thread!! I can't believe ours aren't legal over there!! Crazy! Oh well!

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    They are looking into changing the rules so you can use ISOFIX seats here.

    We had a Holden Cruze made in Adelaide at the Elizabeth plant and it had the fixing in it for the ISOFIX.

    This is because its shipped to countries where the car has to have these fixings in it to allow it to be sold.

    A lot of the car laws are out dated and were made up a long long time ago.

    Rob and Mel

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    They are looking into changing the rules so you can use ISOFIX seats here.

    We had a Holden Cruze made in Adelaide at the Elizabeth plant and it had the fixing in it for the ISOFIX.

    This is because its shipped to countries where the car has to have these fixings in it to allow it to be sold.

    A lot of the car laws are out dated and were made up a long long time ago.

    Rob and Mel

     

    Isofix, or what will be the Australian version of it has jumped over a few hurdles and has been approved so manufacturers can start thinking about designing car seats. But it still has a long way to go and is still more than likely a few few years off from being actually legal to use and car seats widely available that are Aussie tested and approved. Also it may still require the top tether (like the US LATCH system) as well as the base clipping in. Its not known yet quite how they are going to go about it and I am keeping tabs on all the news on it. Most new cars in Aus are sold with Isofix points these days and have been for a while now. Japanese imports, EU makes, wise move on the car manufacturers part.

     

    Regarding child car seat laws, these were actually revised and amended in 2010 and widely rolled out since then. So not quite so out dated :D And the top tether when forward facing is actually a really good safety measure in keeping a car seat secure so it wins points from me :cute:

     

    There is still a push for extended rear facing car seats (or more ones that simply can be used past 9 months safely) on the Australian market and the new laws have left room for this but its a slow process to gettting them made. The law saying you can turn your baby at 6 months forward facing is quite frankly scary and even stores selling car seats are advising you keep a baby rear facing as long as possible now. Hopefully they will amend the 6 month rule and make it at least a couple of months later.

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    I've updated the first post to include the recent Isofix news. It would seem Isofix will be available in Australia in 2013. Here is a link to the article.

     

    Here is the article in full (please note, it states Isofix in the headline, but then goes on to say Isofix-like restraint system, so it could be that the system isn't identical)

     

    Isofix coming to Australian baby seats.

    Australian parents will soon be able to buy baby seats using an Isofix-like restraint system

     

    Updated:27 Jul 2011 Author:Zoya Sheftalovic

     

    01.Isofix child restraints coming to AustraliaThe Australian Standard for child restraints in cars is currently under review, and will likely allow the use of an international child restraint system where seats clip into attachment points manufactured into cars, called Isofix, from 2013.

     

    “The next update will incorporate Isofix,” confirms Craig Newland, chair of the committee for the Australian Standard for child restraints for use in motor vehicles. “We just want to make sure there’s compatibility with vehicles on the market. We don’t take any backwards steps in child safety.”

     

    Isofix-type child seats are used in Europe, the US and Canada, and enable seats to be quickly secured without using seat belts. At this stage it’s not known whether the new system will be backwards-compatible with old cars or seats in Australia.

     

    There have been calls for the introduction of Isofix in Australia for some time. Professor Lotta Jakobsson, technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre in Sweden, was in Australia earlier this year advocating for this. But while Isofix’s incorporation into the Australian Standard will provide greater choice for parents, it isn’t necessarily safer than the current system.“When Europe introduced Isofix they were coming from a lower safety base than Australia currently has. Our incremental jump in safety improvement isn’t going to be nearly as big. The main benefit is around reducing incorrect fitting,” says Newland.

     

    The new system will not eliminate the need to professionally fit seats, however. Newland says: “It won’t solve all misfitment problems as it hasn’t been shown to do so overseas. In the US they’ve done studies to see if their incorrect installation rate has dropped. The improvement wasn’t dramatic.”

     

    Prof Jakobsson also called for the introduction of rear facing child seats for children up to the age of four. The resulting coverage included claims that Australia’s child restraint standards are less safe than their European and American equivalents. In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued advice earlier this year suggesting children should be in rear facing restraints until the age of two. In Jacobsson’s native Sweden, children are generally rear facing until the age of four. The Australian Standards allow for rear facing restraints for children up to four years of age, but there are no such seats currently sold in here.There are a number of reasons for this. A major issue is space. “Putting rear facing seats in the back makes for very little room, especially in some vehicles with reduced space in the back. My understanding is that in Sweden they put the seat in the front seat of the vehicle, which isn't permitted in Australia, and besides that, it means you can only have one child seat in a car at a time," explains Mike Lumley, technical director of manufacturer Britax.

     

    Australian safety experts also say that forward facing children from the age of six months in Australia are safe, largely due to the top tether system mandated by Australian Standards.“The issue is that the Australian Standard is very different to the international one,” says Christine Erskine, Executive Officer Kidsafe NSW. “We have different tether straps. It’s not a problem here - we can be confident that a child over six months can face forward.”Professor Lynne Bilston of Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, is one of Australia’s top experts in the field. She says the controversy is due in part to a lack of understanding of the local context. “Researchers have been looking for evidence of a problem in Australia for decades and there just isn’t any. On the contrary there are many cases of infants in forward facing restraints who are the only survivors in crashes and are unharmed,” she says. "There has not been a serious injury to a child in a forward facing restraint that wasn’t a result of gross misuse of the restraint. In terms of whether it’s essential for [isofix] to be offered, my personal opinion is it’s fine to have it, but I have no concern for forward facing as long as [people properly] use the top tether."Dr Stuart Newstead, Senior Research Fellow at Monash University Accident Research Centre, agrees. “Car companies wheel in foreign experts who don’t have an understanding of our local context and they say things that aren't appropriate to our environment. The motivation is very noble, but some balance and consideration of all the factors needs to happen. It’s alright to be altruistic, but if that ultimately leads to a sub-optimum solution we’ve all lost,” he says. “There are also other mitigating considerations. When children are older they may get distressed sitting backwards. If that’s causing distraction to the driver then that’s a safety concern in itself."Our seats are some of the only ones in the world with a top tether, which provides more stability. The Swedish argument is valid, but the statistics don’t support it as being a problem in Australia. Generally children in rear facing restraints are extremely safe... even with current misuse we don’t have high rates of child mortality, it’s not an epidemic because we have very good legislation and people are generally very compliant," says Dr Newstead.

     

    Prof Bilston says parents should be more concerned with properly fitting restraints and ensuring older children are kept in booster seats longer. “Parents don’t need to panic about whether they need to keep their child rear facing. There are other priorities, for example, there are a lot of children not using a booster seat, even though they need one for secure seat belting until they are up to 12 years old. The biggest risk to children in Australia is misuse.”

     

    To check on child restraint requirements for your state or find a professional child restraint fitter, visit Kidsafe.

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    Can I just add here, as a parent whose child is extended rear facing Mike Lumley's quote is somewhat misleading. I don't like people to be misinformed or hear a one sided argument so am posting this in reply.

     

    For what its worth my son is 3, has been rear facing since birth and his Britax ERF car seat has never been anywhere else but in the back seat, behind the passenger seat. We have legroom in the front and can sit 2 other people in the back seat also (a squish for 3 adults without the seat anyways). We can also install a second car seat (EFR or FF) in the back seat and still have room for a child in the middle who no longer needs a car seat. We can fit a highback booster possibly there, but not had the need yet. Lumley's quote sadly gives the impression ERF car seats are so bulky you can only fit them in the front and only one per car. Its misleading and I am disappointed to read it, especially as Britax make and sell their ERF across Europe, not only in Sweden. And oddly, the pictures I've seen of ERF car seats (I post on a few ERF car seat forums and groups) they are of kids in ERF car seats in the back seats of cars. Sometimes 2 ERF car seats in there. So I think its a bit unfair to say they only really fit in the front.

     

    I know our Britax ERF seat fits nicely in the back of a Mazda 2. We tried it and it was a good fit. Bit less legroom in the front but as we wish to ERF it wasn't an issue for us to loose a bit of legroom. We'd never have considered installing it in the front seat. Nor do most people I know who ERF.

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    Good post Snifter,

     

    I enjoyed reading you post but this comment made me giggle...

     

    "But while Isofix’s incorporation into the Australian Standard will provide greater choice for parents, it isn’t necessarily safer than the current system.“When Europe introduced Isofix they were coming from a lower safety base than Australia currently has."

     

    Is that because Europe never had the strap/tether thingy?

     

    Cheers for keeping us updated.

     

    Rob and Mel

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    Good post Snifter,

     

    I enjoyed reading you post but this comment made me giggle...

     

    "But while Isofix’s incorporation into the Australian Standard will provide greater choice for parents, it isn’t necessarily safer than the current system.“When Europe introduced Isofix they were coming from a lower safety base than Australia currently has."

     

    Is that because Europe never had the strap/tether thingy?

     

    Cheers for keeping us updated.

     

    Rob and Mel

     

    Good question. I have no definite answer to that. However, based on my knowledge of car seat safety and the use within the EU, I'd think the top tether aspect did play a large part. Forward facing car seats fitted with a seatbelt only do move more than those fitted with a top tether also. So when Isofix came along and gave parents the option of fitting the car seat it made it much more secure in ways it hadn't been before. Had we in the EU also used top tethers alongside seatbelts when installing our car seats perhaps the figures would have been very different.

     

    I'll go do some reading on the subject now :)

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    Guest Renal Nurse

    Hi, thanks for this info. My children are 15, 9 and 7 (8 in Oct). Am I right in thinking the younger ones just need booster seats?

     

    ​thanks

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    Hi, thanks for this info. My children are 15, 9 and 7 (8 in Oct). Am I right in thinking the younger ones just need booster seats?

     

    ​thanks

     

    I'd keep them in decent highback boosters till they reach a safe height to sit and use the seatbelt safely. Safe n Sound (Britax Aus) make a highback booster or two to see them to that stage.

     

    Sit on boosters without a back I'd personally never use at any age as a child can slide out from under them under braking/impact and also sneak arms out the seatbelt too easily. They have been phased out by most car seat makers these days.

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    Thanks Snifter for all the info!

     

    I am a Family Daycare Provider and therefore like all people transporting children it is imperative that they are using the correct size car seat as well as the 'fitting' of it!

     

    When I came to Adelaide 5 years ago I went to the RAA and went on a training course to learn about Australian car seats.... even though I had a full understanding of car seats back in the UK as I was doing the job there for the past 15 years. What I found different was the 'Anchor Points' which I think is brilliant -so secure once fitted correctly ofcourse. Secondly 'rear facing' under 6 mths... all my under ones ALL sit in rear facing, it has proven that this position is far safer as Snifter has stated. I have four children a day and go out every day and always have a child under 18mths who will always sit rear facing....

    I never like to swap round my seats as they are checked and refitted if necessary every 6 months by a superb gentleman called 'Robyn' at the RAA at Richmond. If anyone is concerned please call the RAA and they will advice and fit your car seat/s even though you have not bought them from there FREE of charge. I would recommend every parent to do this - you will be surprised how many incorrect car seats that are out there that are being used.....

    BTW you have to make an app for this service!

    Cheers

    Fiona

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    News update re changes to car seat standards http://infasecure.com.au/news/2013-australian-standard-revision/

     

    Please note the part where it informs that using Isofix cars seats from other countries will still be illegal (as are all car seats imported and not tested to Aus standards and approved).

     

     

     

    2013 Australian Standard Revision

     

     

    Posted By: Tom .

    7th June 2013

     

    Today, a revision to the Australian Standard for Child Restraints in Vehicles was published. The standard dictates how and what manufacturers are able to build and sell on the Australian market. It includes the following significant changes to the standard;

     

    • The provision for longer use of rearward facing restraints.
    • The provision for longer in-built harness use in forward facing restraints.
    • The provision for longer use of booster seats.
    • The provision for ISOFix-compatible lower attachment connectors.

    InfaSecure views these changes as extremely positive, and look forward to developing new types of restraints to better cater to Australian and New Zealand parents and children.

    There are a few important clarifications that should be considered in view of the provision for ISOFix;

     

    • The provision for ISOFix does not mean that existing ISOFix restraints from other countries are automatically certified for use. None of the existing ISOFix restraints have been certified, and thus remain illegal to use.
    • The revision makes provision for ISOFix in Type A (Rearward Facing), Type B (Forward Facing with in-built harness) and combination Type A/B Convertibles (Rearward / Forward Facing with in-built harness). Type E (Booster seats) and combination Type B/E (Forward Facing with in-built harness / Booster seat) will not be available with lower attachment connectors under the 2013 revision.
    • ISOFix compatible seats certified to the Australian Standard will continue to require the use of the top tether strap.
    • ISOFix compatible seats will only sit two across the back seat of vehicles, as there are only two sets of attachment clips in most vehicles.

     

    Edited by snifter

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    Ah, this would have made great reading before asking our baby to Adelaide for her first visit. I had several discussions with Maxi Cosi and other EU manufacturers to try and understand the difference between some of their baby seats. In many cases t sounded like the only difference was an Australian standards sticker, but without that sticker the seat is illegal.

     

    I had an interesting discussion with a car seat technician at the baby show and he explained to me that isofix numbers looked good because the click in base was easier to use than seatbelt, hence a better chance it was installed correctly, hence fewer injuries....

     

    what it means for me is leaving the maxi cosi in the uk and starting again in Australia, but bringing all the bits and bobs just in case they fit the Aussie models, and trying not have minor heart failure when having to pay through the nose in Australia

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    There are differences. Aus standards tests for side impact which I am not sure EU/UK does. Also the top tether is used in all Aus car seats. Plus some other things.

     

    Iirc Maxi Cosi doesn't fare so well in Aus standards compared to some other seats.

    Edited by snifter

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    After a year of being unhappy with the high back booster we bought from Toys R US when we arrived I finally went and spent the money ($298!) on a Britax/Safe & Sound Encore 10 for our 8 year old. It has great adjustability, speakers in the headrests.... and best of all should see her till she's at least 10; the first one I've found here in Australia, most say up to 8.

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    Flossybeth - they have only recently begun making high back boosters to last till 10 or so. Law only covers till 7-8 in Aus so companies only made to that limit. There has been a demand in more recent times for options past this age like in the UK/EU (where its 12 or a certain height) and Safe n Sound (Britax in UK) responded well. They already had similar seats elsewhere so were quick to come out with a design.

     

    I plan on getting the same or similar once we arrive. Am annoyed they charge so much for them when the same seat here or one very much like it costs as little as £50. I guess its things like the speakers which bump the cost. I'll look at ones without those in to bring the price down.

    Edited by snifter

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    I didn't go looking for one with speakers! But it was a definite selling point when she thought she was going back into a "babyseat".

     

    I am aware of the up to 7/8 thing which is why I was delighted when I saw this one (although not by the price obviously :swoon:) and in one review it does say it's a weight restriction rather than an age one, so we'll have to see how she grows but might see her past 10. Our other two (aged 10 & 9 when we came out last year) were still in their hi-liners, but we didn't bring them because of the laws and haven't replaced them because of the age thing on all of the ones I've seen here (in the RAA shop where we'd get 5% discount for being members they have very similar models but like I said they only recommend up to 8 so I haven't chanced it).

     

    I'm hoping to get the money back on Mix FM's Write your own cheque competition in the next few weeks :smile:

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    Flossybeth - they have only recently begun making high back boosters to last till 10 or so. Law only covers till 7-8 in Aus so companies only made to that limit. There has been a demand in more recent times for options past this age like in the UK/EU (where its 12 or a certain height) and Safe n Sound (Britax in UK) responded well. They already had similar seats elsewhere so were quick to come out with a design.

     

    I plan on getting the same or similar once we arrive. Am annoyed they charge so much for them when the same seat here or one very much like it costs as little as £50. I guess its things like the speakers which bump the cost. I'll look at ones without those in to bring the price down.

     

    One website I have been keeping an eye on is Baby Bunting, they seem to have good specials now and then including car seats

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