Researchers have found that fewer people make mistakes when using ISOFIX compatible car seat systems, when compared to those installing a car seat with the vehicle’s seatbelt. 

These latest findings from NeuRA’s Transurban Road Safety Centre adds to a growing body of child car seat safety research.

Key findings included:

  • People who installed their child car seats using ISOFIX were up to three times less likely to make a mistake, compared to those who installed their seats using the vehicle’s seatbelt.
  • Despite this, one in three people using ISOFIX systems still made mistakes.  

To inform the study, researchers observed more than 370 children in vehicles at daycare centers, pre-schools, primary schools and at local government restraint fitting days.

Overall, the most common errors observed included:

  • Loose seatbelts
  • Seatbelt twists
  • Incorrect seatbelt routing.

In ISOFIX compatible restraints, the most common errors were:

  • Use of both ISOFIX and seatbelt to install the restraint
  • Loose webbing
  • Failure to correctly attach to ISOFIX fitting on car.

Australia has very high levels of child car seat use and 98% of the time children are in the right car seat for their size. However, researchers found that more than 55% of the time people are still making errors in installing and using the restraint.

This is an important finding, because mistakes in the way a child car seat is used can increase the risk of injury to children in a crash.

In addition to the observational study, crash testing at NeuRA’s Transurban Road Safety Centre examined the protection offered by both ISOFIX and seatbelt-installed restraints in a crash. This included assessing what happens in a crash when car seats secured each way were installed incorrectly.

This testing showed that when they are installed correctly, both ways of securing the restraint offer the same protection to a child in a crash.

However, the crash tests also found the consequence of making an error when installing a car seat with ISOFIX could be worse than if errors are made when installing the restraint with the vehicle’s seatbelt—reinforcing advice to always get a child car seat fitted by a professional.


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