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The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) has published safety ratings for 10 of the latest ISOFIX-compatible child rear seats, revealing the new restraint method isn’t necessarily safer than the traditional seat belt system.

According to CREP’s results, there was a minimal difference in safety performance between child seats with and without ISOFIX anchorages, contrary to the perception that Isofix-mounted child seats are superior to the older seat belt method.

CREP awards each child restraint and booster seat a star rating for protection and ease of use, with a maximum of five stars achievable for each category- not dissimilar to ANCAP’s method for crash testing cars.

In the latest series of tests, the Infa-Secure Trident II Deluxe ($368.99), received four stars in rear-facing mode installed with just a seatbelt, and three stars when secured with the ISOFIX attachments. In forward-facing mode, the seat scored only two stars.

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Melinda Spiteri, RACV manager of road user behaviour, said: “Convertible restraints are often compromised in one mode and parents need to be aware of this.”

“If you are intending on using the restraint in both modes then you should look at the performance of the restraint in both modes and choose one that performs well in each.”

Hindering the Trident II’s safety rating were poor results in managing impact energy to the occupant’s head during an impact in both front- and rear-facing modes.

For the first time, the CREP tests included an ISOFIX-compatible rearward-facing seat for children up to 2.5-years-old – the Safe-n-Sound Platinum SICT ($659).

This child seat achieved ‘good’ results, scoring three stars in rear-facing mode and four stars in forward-facing mode using both the seat-belt and Isofix restraining methods.

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In Australia it is a legal requirement to secure an ISOFIX child seat with both the top-tether belt along with the ISOFIX attachments, which is not the case in most overseas markets.

More than 500 children are killed and thousands more injured globally as a result of road trauma every day, making it even more important for parents to use the safest restraint possible for their tiny passengers.

According to the Transport Accident Commision (TAC) child fatalities on the road have decreased by more than 65 per cent since the CREP was established in 1992.

MORE: Isofix child seats – your questions answered
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