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Safe Restraint Fitting Explained

Safe Restraint Fitting Explained

We do a lot of installing of carseats and capsules round here. Approximately 3 or 4 dozen a week, rising to double that during peak periods. We work very hard to ensure that our fittings always exceed the manufacturer’s instructions and do our best to teach our customers how to safely use their restraint once they leave our premises.

The one issue that seems to arise quite often is whether or not the seat is installed “tightly enough”. There is a perception in the community that a carseat or baby capsule has to be “rock solid” to be safe and that any movement at all is a sign of poor workmanship, incorrect fitment and/or dangerous for the infant. Parents will “test” their child restraint by shaking or pushing it from side to side, and when it moves panic sets in.

A restraint that has a firm relationship to the vehicle is preferred, but this aspect is often taken way too far, with some customers ‘testing’ their fitting by shaking the restraint to prove it’s ‘safety level’. The engineering

reality is that nothing that is to survive extreme forces is designed to be rigid. Everything is designed to flex. We do not catch a cricket ball with rigid arm, otherwise we would have a cricket team with multiple broken

bones in their arms. The more rigidly a child restraint is attached to the chassis of the vehicle the more force

the passenger will have to cope with. This is one ‘perceived benefit’ that attracts consumers to ISOFIX products, thinking that its a tighter = better fitment. Its important to note that seatbelt webbings and mountings exceed the strength of ISOFIX fittings so if your car or restraint doesn’t have ISOFIX you’re not missing out on anything in the safety department.

As long as your capsule or carseat doesn’t move more than 2.5 cms at the belt path end (ie. where the seatbelt or isofix points are attached) then it is fine. Some movement in some circumstances is perfectly fine. Pushing, shaking or rocking the restraint does nothing and is not an adequate test of correct fitment.