The cheapest child restraints are sometimes the safest, according to a new study from the NRMA.
Conducted alongside Kidsafe NSW, the NRMA test put nine restraints through their paces in safety and ease of use. None of the seats tested scored a perfect five stars, while four snagged a four-star rating.
Although all nine complied with Australian Standards, the NRMA and Kidsafe called out the "vast difference in the quality of protection they offer" in the real world.
“A car seat is one of the first and last pieces of baby equipment a parent will purchase that will be used every day for several years, and can be one of the most important,” said Dimitra Vlahomitros, NRMA road safety expert.
The highest-scoring seat for safety was the Mother's Choice Trinity ($99) booster seat, which scored 4.8 stars out of a possible five. It was followed by the Joie Trillo ($149) booster seat and Infa-Secure ($149) forward-facing seat on 4.7 stars.
Meanwhile, the easiest-to-use seat was the rear-facing Safe-N-Sound Graphene ($439) with 3.9 stars, followed by the Safe-N-Sound Graphene forward-facing and Babylove Ezy Fit II booster seat with 3.5 stars. A full table of results is published above.
“You can actually score a bargain and score a safe seat by looking around,” Vlahomitros said. “Safety doesn’t come at a price and these results show us that the most expensive seat isn’t often the safest.”
Along with seat choice, the research highlighted the need for child restraints to grow with children, even when those children are old enough to nag their parents.
“One of the most common grey areas is when to graduate a child into a booster seat or into an adult seat,” said Christine Erskine from Kidsafe.
“When kids see their peers sitting in adult seats they start pestering their parents to let them do the same, but we ask parents and carers to be strong and explain to children how important it is to stay safe, and not give into that pester power.”
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