AFTER concocting a suitably reassuring answer to the question, “Are we there yet?” many parents’ second-worst nightmare must surely be installing a child’s car seat. In fact, make that 44% of parents, since this is the worryingly high proportion of mums and dads who, according to Britax, the child seat maker, are ignorant of a long-established system that enables a child’s car seat to be more easily and safely secured than the traditional seatbelt method.
Called Isofix (International Standards Organisation Fix), the system features two metal prongs mounted on the back of the child’s car seat or separate base unit that connect with two fittings — called Isofix loops — mounted to the car’s bodywork behind the rear seat cushions.
According to research carried out recently by the German Insurance Association (GDV), 96% of car seats using the Isofix system were correctly installed compared with just 30% secured to the vehicle using a seatbelt.
Such has been the system’s success in reducing child occupant injuries that in 2007 car makers in Europe were required to make Isofix available on their production cars, and from early 2011 it became compulsory to fit Isofix loops to all new cars.
The fact that, nearly a decade after it was introduced, 44% of parents are still unaware of Isofix was revealed in new research by Britax, which developed the system in 1997 with Volkswagen. To help educate parents, it has produced a video explaining the system’s benefits and how it works.
It features a young boy whose parents have embraced the Isofix system, enlightening another whose father who has not heard of it and who continues to struggle to install seats with seatbelts alone.
As he listens with amazement to his friend’s explanation of Isofix he says, “Fiddling with the seatbelts last time tied my dad in knots.”
“Isofix is an incredibly safe, quick and easy to use system that simplifies the busy lives of mums and dads, and gives them the confidence to install their child seats in an intuitive way,” said Mark Bennett, child safety expert at Britax.
This is not the first time Britax has warned parents about the dangers of poorly designed child seats. Last year, Driving reported how the manufacturer launched a campaign called Bin the Booster designed to highlight the poor safety performance of child booster seats compared with full, high-backed child seats.
In tests simulating a collision at 42mph, it found the latter was much more effective in securing and protecting a child.