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NeuRA Magazine #29

Research in Action

RESEARCHERS SUGGEST A RETHINK OF “BANNED” CHEST CLIPS ON CHILD CAR RESTRAINTS IN AUSTRALIA

Research using child-sized crash test dummies has shown, for the first time, a potential safety benefit in using plastic chest clips on child car restraints, as they keep shoulder straps together, reducing the risk of serious injury in a crash.

Despite chest clips being widely used in the United States, they do not meet Australian safety standards due to concerns they may cause neck injuries in a crash. However, researchers at the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA have found no sign of serious injury related to the chest clips when tested on Australian child restraints.

Researchers reviewed real-world data from an American crash database to see if there were any signs of injury in children up to the ageof four.

“We found that there was actually a reduction in the risk of moderate to serious injury of all types in children under one when chest clips were used properly,” said Professor Lynne Bilston, Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA.

This review of American data prompted Professor Bilston to study the performance of Australian car seats in crash tests using the same type of chest clips used in the US. Professor Bilston and her team conducted crash tests using small child-sized crash test dummies at the Transurban Road Safety Centre based at NeuRA.

“We tested chest clips in frontal crashes, using a crash test dummy that represents the smallest child who would normally be forward facing,” said Professor Bilston.

The crash tests were done at 49 km/hr in a frontal direction, both with a tight harness and with a looser harness. Analysis of highspeed crash test footage showed the plastic clips tended to slide down the straps during the crash, meaning they are unlikely to be forcefully touching a child’s neck. There was no difference in the neck forces with the clips in place.

The results of this research will be submitted for consideration by the Australian Standards Committee to determine whether plastic chest clips might have a net benefit, allowing them to be supplied with Australian child car restraints.

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