Car seat chest clip ‘ban’ could be lifted in Australia

Car seat chest clips Australia

New research into ‘banned’ car seat chest clips could prompt a change to Australian standards. While common in the US, the chest clips – which are used to stop car seat shoulder straps from falling down, don’t currently meet Australian standards.

However, Australian researchers have shown for the first time that there’s a potential safety benefit in using the plastic clips on car restraints to keep shoulder straps together and reduce the risk of serious injury in a crash.

Chest clips crash tested in Australia

Australian research on car seat chest clips

The reason chest clips don’t meet Australian standards has to do with concerns they could cause neck injuries in a crash. But researchers at the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA say their testing has found no sign of serious injury related to the chest clips when used with Australian car seats. It could pave the way for a change in Australian standards so that the clips can be used by Australian parents.

Researchers first reviewed data from the US. “We found that there was actually a reduction in the risk of moderate to serious injury of all types in children under one when chest clips were used properly,” said Professor Lynne Bilston, Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA. “While the overall injury risk didn’t change in children aged one to four, there appeared to be a reduction in the risk of neck injuries when the chest clips were used.”

Crash testing on chest clips for car seats

These positive results then prompted the Australian study, using Australian car seats with the same type of chest clips used in the US, in crash tests.

“We tested chest clips in frontal crashes, using a crash test dummy that represents the smallest child who would normally be forward facing,” said Professor Bilston. The tests found that at 49 km/hr in a frontal direction, both with a tight and loose harness, the plastic clips tended to slide down during a crash. This means they’re unlikely to forcefully touch a child’s neck during a crash. The research also showed no difference in the neck forces with the clips in place.

“This analysis was consistent with the US experience of these clips,” said Professor Bilston. “The bottom line is that the plastic clips may help to keep straps on a child’s shoulders when they fall asleep in the car seat, although they won’t stop a determined escape artist from wriggling out.”

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Australian testing of chest clips:

The results of the research are being submitted to the Australian Standards Committee to see if the chest clips are beneficial enough to allow them to be supplied with Australian child car restraints.

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