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  • Writer's pictureChris Maher

Installing Child Car Seats - Can Child Restraints Be Used After An Accident?

Updated: May 26

When it comes to child safety, car seats are non-negotiable. However, what happens to a child restraint after it's been involved in a car accident is a question many Australian parents grapple with. Is it safe to continue using, or does it belong in the rubbish bin? Let's explore the Australian guidelines and best practices for managing child restraints post-accident.



Child Car Seat Restraints - Damaged Seats
You shouldn't use child restraints that show signs of damage

The Impact of a Car Accident on Child Restraints & Installation


Firstly, it's important to understand how a car accident can affect a child restraint. During a collision, a child seat undergoes extreme stresses and strains. While it may look unscathed, invisible damage such as micro-fractures or weakened materials can compromise its structural integrity. The seat's ability to protect in a subsequent accident may be significantly reduced, even if the damage is not readily apparent.



Child Car Restraints - Usability
Child restraints cannot be used if involved in an accident where the vehicle needed to be towed


Australian Safety Standards & Recommendations


In Australia, the safety standards are quite clear. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and various state road authorities, a child restraint that has been involved in a severe crash should not be used again. The National Child Restraint Guidelines further specify that restraints must be replaced if they have been in an accident where:

  • The vehicle needed to be towed away.

  • The airbags were deployed.

  • There was a fatality or injury in the vehicle.

  • The car seat itself has visible damage.

The rationale is straightforward: safety cannot be guaranteed after a significant impact. This is echoed by child safety advocates and car seat manufacturers, who advise against reusing a car seat after any major accident.


Assessing the Severity of the Accident

The severity of the accident plays a crucial role in determining whether a child restraint can be reused. For minor collisions—where none of the aforementioned conditions apply—some manufacturers may allow the continued use of the car seat after a thorough inspection. However, this is the exception rather than the rule, and you must consult the manufacturer's guidelines specific to your child restraint model.


The Role of Insurance on child car seats


In many cases, the cost of replacing a child restraint after an accident will be covered by your car insurance policy. It's imperative to check with your insurer to understand your coverage. This can provide peace of mind and ensure that financial considerations do not compromise child safety. If you're having problems in dealing with your insurance company, please be sure to contact us for advice and liaison.


What to Do With a Compromised Child Restraint


If your child restraint has been deemed unsafe, it's crucial to dispose of it responsibly. Simply throwing it in the trash might lead to someone else unknowingly using it, putting another child at risk. To prevent this, you should:

  • Cut the harnesses.

  • Remove or deface the compliance label.

  • Clearly label the seat as damaged and not safe for use.

  • Dispose of it at a recycling centre if possible, or as per the advice of local waste management authorities.


When selecting a new child restraint, always choose one that complies with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754. This certification is a guarantee that the seat meets stringent safety requirements.

Additionally, consider the following:

  • Age, weight, and height of your child: Ensure the seat is appropriate for your child's current size and growth potential.

  • Compatibility with your vehicle: Check that the seat fits well in your car and can be correctly installed.

  • Ease of use: A restraint that is easy to adjust and use correctly is more likely to be used properly every time.


Regulation and Certification

In Australia, all child restraints must meet the requirements of the Australian/New Zealand Standard for Child restraints for use in motor vehicles (AS/NZS 1754). It's illegal to use a car seat that does not comply with these standards. After an accident, a replacement seat should also carry this certification.



Here at BabySafe&Clean, we specialise in installing child car seat restraints. We are authorised by the NSW RMS in providing convenient mobile service to your doorstep. We understand that child seat fitting is not an easy procedure and we are here to help!



Conclusion

In conclusion, the safety of a child restraint post-accident is a matter of great concern. The consensus among Australian safety standards and experts is clear: a child seat involved in a significant accident should be replaced to ensure the highest level of safety for your child. While it may be tempting to save money or time by continuing to use a seat after a minor fender bender, the invisible risks could be substantial. Always consult with the seat's manufacturer and your insurance provider to make the safest choice for your child.


Remember, when it comes to the safety of our children, it's always better to err on the side of caution. By following the guidelines and ensuring the use of a certified, undamaged child restraint for every journey, you are investing in your child's safety and wellbeing on the road.

 

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