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Very pleased to hear everyone is back posting although I wonder how our New York Cop friend, who has not posted for a long time, is coping.
The Australian laws on child seats are fairly stringent. There are Australian Design Rules applying to vehicles sold in Australia, defining the parameters for things like Anchorage points. ADR's apply for vehicles from about 1970 and are rigidly enforced. No ADR compliance means the car canot be registered. http://www.dotrs.gov.au/land/VehicleStandards/ADR/adrindx.htm
In addition there are Australian Standards (well actually they are now Australian and New Zealand mutual standards) for child seats http://www.standards.com.au/catalogue/script/Details.asp?DocN=AS575692723708
The first standard on child seats was issued in 1970 and it is illegal to sell such products which do not comply with the Australian Standard.
There is also a high degree of compliance with seatbelt wearing and child seat legislation. I see unrestrained children only infrequently here in Australia and the Police are very rigid on enforcement. Mind you, community opinion also has its effect. It is not unusual for other parents to point out the stupidity of parents failing to protect their child in a car.
The only group where there is poor compliance with seat belt laws is amongst recent immigrants, particularly from third world countries where life is less valued. This is an education things and over time, compliance improves.
Now, the big problem! Fitting child seats and restraints is not fool proof. My boss had a new child, installed the capsule in his Jeep and then, not being too happy with it, asked me (the next youngest family around) to come and check the installation. The seat slid around wildly on the leather seats and was not properly tethered despite him reading the instructions carefully. He is an intelligent, mechanically able forty year old and he had fitted the seat dangerously. I refitted the seat with him, taking about half an hour to get it fully sorted before it matched our requirements and was stable. If an intelligent, very careful man can get it wrong, how would an average or sub average family get by, particularly when harrassed with screaming kids.
In addition, the straps on the seats do loosen over time and must be checked regularly. In particular, the tether strap which passes back to the roof restraint can become loose, removing one axis of the triangular bracing which the restraint systems rely upon.
For our kids, now 8 and 5, we use a harness which forms an H across the kids shoulders and slips over the lap portion of the seat belt. Both the lap and sash portions of the seat belt are fitted snugly across the kids lap and locked with a clip, which provides a stable base, holding the kid's backside into the back of the seat. The Shoulder harness passes over the head and is slipped through the lap belt. The upper harness is then tightened with a pull strap. For the five year old, there is also a booster seat which is actually a high density polysterene foam with a cloth covering.
Notwithstanding the care, we have had a few problems. One kid took to unlatching the buckle himself for some time, always choosing to do it at an inappropriate moment like when on the freeway. Education is very important. The other one was so persuaded of the necessity of seat belts that her teddy bear had to be strapped in as well.
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