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ISOFIX child seats approved for Australian market

ISOFIX car safety system for children is coming to Australia.

It's taken a decade, but at last the child safety seat system recognised as the world's best is heading here, and the Australian version will have greater side impact protection than Europe's.

Australian families finally have access to the world's best child seat system, ISOFIX.

More than 10 years after the ISOFIX system was first developed, using rigid mounts that lock a child seat into place instead of relying on an adult seat belt, it has now been approved for local sales and use by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

But there is a difference, as Australian ISOFIX includes a clip-on top tether and more side-impact protection than seats sold in Europe.

The new safety approval comes after research showed that more than 80 per cent of existing child seats are not correctly installed.

The Maxi Cosi brand is available next week with Britax also ready to go and Holden championing the change with a re-badged Britax seat.

"We've been working on this for more than two and-a-half years. We have three seats to cover children from zero to four years," says Britax spokesperson, Narenna Bloomfield.

"This is a significant step forward for child safety. And we're introducing the ISOFIX models without any additional costs."

Holden is partnering with Britax and trumpets the fact that all of its current range is equipped with ISOFIX mounts, including three across the back seat of the VF Commodore.

"We've been actively pushing this technology for some years now. And when we launched VF commodore we made a big deal about putting ISOFIX into it, with three ISOFIX mounts in the back seat," says Steve Curtis, senior safety manager at GM Holden.

"We're very pleased to have it as a regulation in this country. It's been a long time in coming." Curtis says correct installation is the major benefit for ISOFIX, but the Australia version also improves crash protection.

"The key advantage over the old belted system is that a large proportion of those seats are installed incorrectly. It is very hard to incorrectly instal an ISOFIX seat.

"The secondary benefit, and we've done some testing, is that in a side impact the seat offers significantly better performance. The Australian seat has large wings on the side. We have more stringent requirements." But he stops short of criticising the existing system and seats. "What we are suggesting is that an ISOFIX system is a little bit safer. I think this will make a difference."