The safety benefits of not moving children to seatbelts too early

New safety ratings for 12 child car seats show nearly all child booster seats tested received a full five-star rating – demonstrating how important it is not to move children to a seatbelt prematurely.

The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) assesses child car seats on how well they performed in crash tests and how easy they were to install, awarding a one to five star rating.

CREP results give parents and caregivers critical information about which child car seats are safest.

Three out of the three ‘non-convertible’ booster seats tested (i.e. unable to be converted into a front-facing child seat) received the maximum five-star safety rating in the latest CREP results.

Transport Accident Commission (TAC) spokesperson Samantha Buckis said “There are many 5-star booster seats available on the market which shows why parents should keep their children in booster seats for as long as possible. They offer vital protection for children who are still too short for an adult seatbelt.”

Children should only move into the next restraint category once they outgrow it based on height, regardless of their age – an adult seatbelt should not be used until a child reaches 145cm height.

CREP is a partnership formed by RACV, TAC, VicRoads, Transport for New South Wales, National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA), and Kidsafe Australia. Testing is conducted throughout the year to ensure that parents have access to the most up-to-date information.

See the top safety rated restraints recently tested by CREP, in the table below. For a full listing, go to www.childcarseats.com.au

Model Name
Mode Rating
Protection Ease of Use
Safety 1st Apex AP Booster seat 5 stars 2 stars
Infa-Secure Vario Treo Booster seat 5 stars 3 stars
Infa-Secure Vario Treo Booster seat 5 stars 3 stars
Safety 1st Prime AP Booster seat 5 stars 2 stars
Forward facing 4 stars 2 stars
Safety 1st Destiny Eternity Booster seat 4 stars 2 stars
Forward facing 4 stars 2 stars
Safe-N-Sound Compaq MKII Rear facing
(up to 2.5 years)
4 stars 3 stars
Infa-Secure Quatro Neo Forward facing 4 stars 3 stars

 

While all child car seats sold in Australia meet the minimum Australian Standard, CREP tests child car seats to determine which ones perform better than others.

VicRoads Director Road User and Vehicle Access, Robyn Seymour said the latest CREP results left no wriggle room for parental decisions when it came to the safety of precious cargo.

“The results further demonstrate that dedicated booster seats – those that do not convert into a forward-facing seat – generally offer the greatest protection for children four and older,” Ms Seymour said.

“They are also a crucial step between forward-facing child car seats and the adult seatbelt.”

RACV Manager Road User Behaviour, Rebekah Smith said the new results provide useful information to parents and carers who are unsure what seat is best for their child. “We want to ensure every child is being transported on our roads as safely as possible, and as a parent or carer, choosing the right seat can be an overwhelming task,” said Ms Smith.

Tips for choosing a child car seat:

  • Buy the safest seat that you can afford based on the protection rating
  • Be careful of buying seats online. Seats that do not meet the Australian standard are illegal to use and often do not provide head and side protection in a crash
  • Transitioning to a seatbelt too early can be dangerous. Children should continue using booster seats until they can pass the 5-step test
  • Parents and carers can visit an RACV fitting station to have a restraint installed by an expert – call 13RACV or visit racv.com.au/childrestraints to find your closest fitter.

    Media enquiries:
    VicRoads Media Unit: (03) 9854 2160
Written by RACV - Media Relations (03) 9790 2572
May 04, 2017