ISOFIX compatible child restraints were first introduced in Australia as part of the 2013 Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1754:2013) and became available to purchase in late 2014.
The purpose of this research project was to investigate parental attitudes towards ISOFIX compatible child restraints, the use of the system (including any barriers to use) and to identify any common misuse/incorrect installation issues, in Victoria, Australia.
In the first phase, two 1.5 hour focus groups were undertaken to gain an understanding of attitudes towards and usage of ISOFIX compatible child restraints in Victoria – one with parents and one with child restraint fitters. Findings from the focus groups were used to inform phase two of the project, which involved administering two online surveys (one with parents and one with child restraint fitters) that further explored attitudes towards and use of ISOFIX compatible child restraints in Victoria.
Findings From the project demonstrated that aside from those who were currently using or had used ISOFIX compatible child restraints, there was a lack of awareness amongst parents about how the system worked/was used. Results also identified a number of incorrect installation/usage issues, including restraints that had been installed using both the ISOFIX connections and seatbelt, parents finding it difficult to get the ISOFIX connection to attach to the anchor point properly and ISOFIX compatible child restraints that had been installed without using the top tether strap. The research also highlighted a general lack of awareness amongst the public of the need to regularly check and maintain the fit of child restraints.
This project demonstrates that while ISOFIX compatible child restraints may appear easier to install and move between vehicles, they are not foolproof and there is still potential for incorrect installation or usage issues.