Understanding ISOFIX; does not necessarily have to be a complex task left to Child Restraint Professionals. Understanding ISOFIX is a task every parent should see as their duty to understand and implement measures for the safe travel of their child.
What is ISOFIX
ISOFIX is the new standard for car seat installation. The Isofix system is being adopted by car seat manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers worldwide. The system operates through ISOFIX points on the back of the child car seat that plug onto ISOFIX fittings in the car.
In 1997, BRITAX launched ISOFIX together with VW in the Golf V. This safety system has become an international installation interface for standardised anchorage points between a child seat and a vehicle.
30% of child seats are installed correctly; when using an adult seat belt. 96% of child seats, are installed correctly; when using the ISOFIX system*
* Source: The German Insurance Institute GDV, Group 1
ISOFIX fittings remove the need to use the adult seat-belts to restrain the child restraint; this significantly decreases the risk of a parent installing the car-seat incorrectly.
Types of ISOFIX attachments
In Australia there are two systems for ISOFIX attachment, these are RIGID ISOFIX system and the Flexible ISOFIX system.
Understanding Rigid ISOFIX connectors
Rigid connectors are located at the base of the child restraint, which connect to the vehicle’s ISOFIX anchorages. The top tether strap must be anchored to the vehicle. The vehicle seat-belt is not required when the rigid connectors are being used. Examples include; Britax Trufix (now discontinued) and the Nuna Pippa Klik capsule.
Flexible ISOFIX connectors
Flexible straps with connectors are located at the base of the child restraint; which connect to the vehicle’s ISOFIX anchorages. The flexible connectors are then adjusted to secure the child restraint firmly to the vehicle. The top tether strap must be anchored to the vehicle. The vehicle seat-belt is not required when the flexible isofix connectors are being used.
NOTE it is illegal to use aftermarket isofix connectors; these accessories have not been testef
Tightness of the child restraint
Many parents notice that when they install the ISOFIX child restraint; there is more lateral motion than normally would be with a standard seat belt installations. Provided both ISOFIX indicators are fully green, then you have installed the ISOFIX child restraint correctly.
It is an urban myth that child restraint installations must be ROCK hard.
Is ISOFIX any safer
ISOFIX is a attachment mechanism, preventing lateral motion. The current Australian system; for installing a child restraint is just as safe, and secure as the newly introduced (September 2014) ISOFIX System.
WHY Australian ISOFIX is SAFER
Many Europeans are under the misguided impression that European ISOFIX is SAFER. Here are the FACTS relating to WHY Australian ISOFIX is SAFER
ISOFIX compatible system for Australia represents a combination of changes to the Australian Design Rules for vehicles (ADR 34) and the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754).
For new vehicles (being supplied with ISOFIX low anchorages); Australian Design Rules, have been amended to set design and performance requirements. From 1 November 2012, vehicle manufacturers; could voluntarily include ISOFIX low anchorages in new models of vehicles, and from 1 November 2013 for all other new vehicles of existing models.
- have a top tether strap
- have a rebound prevention feature (to keep a rearward facing child restraint in the correct position in the event of a crash)
- Tested in a side impact
- Tested in an inverted position to test for occupant ejection ensuring the child does not get ejected from their child restraint should the vehicle roll over
Non Australian ISOFIX Seats – Understanding ISOFIX
Child restraints from Europe and other countries are illegal to use in Australia. Child restraints from other countries, have not passed Australian standard testing; making them unsafe to use.
All child restraints in Australia MUST use the top tether strap; to attach to a Certified and tested anchor point in the car.