The ISOFIX child restraint system has finally been officially approved for use in Australia.
Standards Australia confirmed the revision to the joint Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754:2013, allowing the use of child restraints featuring ISOFIX-compatible lower attachment connectors.
The approval comes more than 12 months after the Federal Government gave ISOFIX the green light in March last year, and sees Australia embrace the system 16 years after it was first introduced in Europe and 11 years after being mandated in the US.
Under the revised standard, parents and guardians of young children will have the option of using ISOFIX-compatible lower attachment connectors or continue to use the vehicle seatbelt threaded through the child restraint as the mechanism for attaching the seat to the car at its base.
Standards Australia says both systems offer comparable levels of protection when correctly installed, although ISOFIX, which features permanent brackets in the vehicle seats, claims to increase the likelihood of correct installation of child restraints.
Standards Australia CEO Colin Blair explained the new standard still required the use of top-tether straps for child restraints in addition to one of the two methods for attaching the seat to the car.
“The use of a top tether strap has been a requirement of the standard since it was first published,” Blair said.
“The revised standard maintains rigorous Australian requirements for restraining children in vehicles, but now allows ISOFIX-compatible lower attachment connectors to be included as an additional option in the design of certain types of child restraints.”
ISOFIX brackets feature in most vehicles imported to Australia, as well as the locally assembled Holden VF Commodore, which went on sale across the country at the start of this month.
Maurice McGrath, Asia-Pacific region managing director for Britax, one of Australia’s leading child restraint system manufacturers, welcomed the revised standard and confirmed his company was already working to have an ISOFIX-compatible car seat on the market by the end of 2013.
“This revision to the Australian and New Zealand Child Restraints Standard is a significant step forward for child safety in Australia and our safety and technical team will work tirelessly on child restraints that utilise these new safety features including ISOFIX-compatible child restraints,” McGrath said.