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  5. Child Safety Harnesses - More harm than good...

Child Safety Harnesses - More harm than good... Lock Rss

Hi All,

I've notice a lot of people mentioning that they use harnesses with their booster seats because they feel they are safer that way. I've been doing a lot of research into this, and wanted to share some info.

Industry Experts; Julie Brown, Paul Kelly, and Lynne Bilston from the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, and Derek Wainohu, Peter Aquilina and Basuki Suratno from the New South Wales Centre for Road Safety - all of these veterans of the industry are of the opinion that harnesses are more trouble than they are worth.

I quote the conclusion to their joint report "Accessory child safety harnesses: Do the risks outweigh the benefits?";

"accessory child safety harness systems provide no better protection than lap/shoulder belt systems. When accessory child safety harness systems are misused the level of protection provided is seriously degraded. Given the high frequencies of child safety harness system misuse seen in field observation studies, and the fact that even when correctly used these system provide no improvement over a lap/shoulder belt, it seems likely that the risks of injury outweigh any perceived benefit of a child safety harness system over a lap/shoulder system."

There are no pros to using a harness, when a lap/sash belt is available. The way things are looking, I wouldn't be surprised if their use was pushed out of the standard in the next iteration.

Here's a link to the report:
I find this incredibly surprising, I only have to see my DD 5yrs in her harness to know that she is more restrained then with a seat belt designed for an adult. I will be using it until I cant squeeze her into it any more... my personal choice and I feel extremely confident about it!!

DD#1- 2004, DD#2 -2006, DD#3 -23/10/08.

Why do you feel confident about it? What testing have you done?

It's not a matter of being 'more restrained', it's a matter of in the event of an accident (god forbid), your child is less protected than she would be in a lap sash seatbelt.

It is your personal choice, but I implore you to do some actual research, not just looking at your child in their restraint.

There is overwhelming evidence against harness use, and the entire industry; scientists, road safety experts, manufacturers and testers are all in agreement.
I have to agree that they are often better restrained in the harness. I honestly don't know about the accident side of things, but simply that my son will pull the sash below under his arm or put it behind him, which I think would have worse impact in an accident than a correctly used harness (which I think you stated is "no better" than the lap/sash belt, so I take it that means no worse either). The only reason I use it is that the booster simply won't fit next to my daughters car seat. I also know several children who simply climb out of the adult belt - not only dangerous in the case of an accident, but could also be the cause of one. I'm not trying to criticise you or the research, I'm just pointing out that there may be other factors involved when it comes to child safety in cars

My parents have a booster seat with a harness in their car for when they babysit my DS. He is such a skinny little thing that the standard seat belt doesn't even sit firmly against him, whereas the harness sits firmly against him so I believe it's the safer option for him.
Another thing to remember is that anything that is misused can be more dangerous.

Out of curiosity to reading a posted quote from "experts" I have looked up the article in question and would like to point out a couple of things.

1. The article looked at the misuse of harness systems (not systems used correctly)
2. The findings indicate they are no better than your standard car seat belt in the case of submarining (ie. when a child slips out from under the belt)
3. The findings also show that if fitted too tightly to a child result in the sash belt sitting too high on the abdomen.
4. The study looked at frontal crashes only, not side or rear impacts.

It is worth noting that this study looks at the standard H design harness. There are harnesses in conjunction with seats that have another point whereby the sash belt is held in place to prevent submarining.

As pointed out by other responders, the problem parents face with using the car fitted restraints is that they often too easy for children to slip out of and it often poses more of a problem in that a crafty child can easily get themselves out of their seat. There is plenty else that can go wrong with a child not restrained properly in a car rather than just the impact from a crash. For example, a child moving around in the back of a car would be very distracting for the driver, they could easily grab hold of something in the car and hurt themselves before the parent can pull over or they could fall in the moving vehicle and hurt themselves that way.

I make no claim to suggest a harness is better than the standard seat belt, however, I do know that sash belts have been shown to cause serious internal injuries to children involved in crashes simply because they don't fit across a child's body in the best position. No doubt they are also of no benefit if not fitted properly.

Lastly, the laws and regulations regarding child restraints have recently changed and I would recommend parents check their road safety rules for their state before discounting any type of restraint system. Also, it is worth pointing out that often parents "upgrade" their children's seating arrangements before they are ready to be in booster seats (should be ages 4-7 or approx 18kg-26kg) which is where a lot of problems occur in the event of a crash.

Not meaning to have a go at anyone but I urge parents, if they are concerned to get as much information as they can on any subject and most importantly read the instructions on any item you purchase.

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