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The Australian child restraint evaluation program.
Consumer information programs aim to bring about change by influencing purchasing decisions and providing market pressure based motivation for manufacturers to improve their products. A consumer information based child restraint evaluation program has been operating in Australia since 1992. The assessment and evaluation procedures used in this program were recently reviewed and have been significantly enhanced. This paper presents the revised assessment methods and representative results from the most recent series of the Australian Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP). Although all restraints tested have passed the minimum requirements of the standard, results indicate a number of areas where specific attention to improvements in the packaging and design of child restraints would be warranted. These include features related to reducing the likelihood of misuse and the level of protection provided in crashes. In particular the results suggest there is substantial scope for improving the performance of convertible child restraints and booster seats. These results demonstrate significant variations in child restraints currently on the market both in terms of crash performance and ease of use. For the program to be successful in achieving its aims there needs to be widespread dissemination of the results. It is critical to the program that Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) results are readily available to consumers and they are encouraged to use this information in making their purchasing decisions.