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Let’s take a look at what’s important when considering a car seat accessory for your family.
We all want to keep our children safe in the car and car seat manufacturers have been doing just that for decades now. So how can you know if that small addition to your car seat is a good choice for your family?
When you are looking at that cute car seat cover, the tray table, or that neck pillow there are some things you need to consider. Has the product been crash tested? How does it rate against the Australian standards? Has it been developed and manufactured with an appropriate level of integrity?
The car seat accessories standard (AS/NZS8005:2013) was brought out mid-2013 and is voluntary. So to begin with you want to make sure that you are using a car seat accessory made by a company that has chosen to crash test, even though it’s not legally necessary.
The core point of the accessories standard is to ensure the performance and protection of the child restraint is not compromised. So, has the accessories company stated this? Can they say they have undergone duty of care with extensive crash testing to ensure there is no effect on the performance of the child restraint allowing the child restraint to deliver it’s un-compromised protection?
Most car seat Manufactures don’t own an in-house crash facility and therefore turn to and work closely with, accredited ones such as Crashlab and APV Tech Centre, Australia’s only NATA accredited facility. This is where a third party accessory would also need to be tested. We don’t know of many third party accessories that have gone to this extent, after all it’s a voluntary standard and testing costs an exorbitant about of money.
The accessories standard requires the accessory to follow the core issue of not interfering with the performance or protection of the restraint but that’s not really enough. This is an important point. What about the effects on the child? Does it introduce any injury for the child?
- Can the tray table ‘whack’ their head? Remember forces in an accident can be up to 20 times the force of gravity, so when a car stops suddenly, objects inside keep moving meaning a 1L bottle of water could ‘pack a 20kg punch’.
- Does the neck pillow push their head forward and outside of the protection zone, which could be a disaster for a side impact accident?
- Has the accessory or car seat cover undergone flammability testing.
Ensure you buy from companies that have used reputable testing facilities, perhaps AWTA Product Testing or CSIRO. For products under a mandated standard (AS/NZS1754), approvals are given by companies such as SAI global who audit the product, so it’s important to use accredited testing facilities.
Are you buying from a business that has gone above and beyond with testing, keeping your child’s well-being at the forefront of their mind?
What about you? Does the accessory have benefits that assist parents? Does your little one keep having a nasty poo explosion on the seat and would a wee guard mean you might have less washing and is worth considering? Does that head support help you concentrate on driving, instead of turning around at every set of lights to lift up a floppy head? A Monash University study found children are 12x more distracting to drivers than mobile phones.
So, is there an accessory that will actually help YOU feel less stressed and distracted in the car, so you can focus on safely driving from A to B.
Are there independent reviews on the product, by parents and experts in the industry (think Engineers, Safety experts, perhaps Physiotherapists for comfort products), that can offer you an honest and unbiased opinion?
Ensure you are doing your homework. Research the company’s website and find out how they perform in an accident. Making guesses where your kids are concerned can lead to poor outcomes. Look for the evidence and focus on the facts and let those results influence your decision if a car seat accessory is right for your family.