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Dynamic assessment of aftermarket child restraint accessories - are there any safety implications?
There are many aftermarket child restraint accessories available on the Australian market, such as the gated buckle (used to convert a lap/sash belt to a lap only belt) and the chest strap (connects to the harness straps to make it harder for a child to remove their arms). Products such as these are often perceived as serving a safety need, such as the chest strap preventing a child from removing their arms from a harness and being partially unrestrained. However, it is unknown if these products interfere with the safety performance of the restraint or present a hazard in themselves. This research explored whether adding an aftermarket accessory to a child restraint either affects the performance of the restraint or presents a safety hazard in the event of a crash. A test protocol was developed and dynamic testing was subsequently performed to determine whether any safety implications existed for two specific aftermarket child restraint accessories - the gated buckle and chest strap. The gated buckle was tested on both rearward and forward facing child restraints, while the chest strap was tested on a forward facing child restraint only. The results were compared to baseline dynamic test results that were performed without the accessory. This paper will report on the dynamic assessment process and will discuss whether any safety implications or hazards result from the use of these devices. Recommendations around the use of these devices will also be discussed.