This guide is to help parents understand the technicalities of ISOFIX, and to explain very simply the design elements of the system.
ISOFIX is an international standardised fitting system that provides the safest, easiest and quickest way to install a child car seat correctly without the need of vehicle seat belts.
When it comes to child safety in passenger cars, there is much talk around ISOFIX, a system for installing child car seats safely and correctly.
How did this cool concept come about?
The ISOFIX introduction into vehicles began as early as 2002 in Europe. Manufacturers of child restraints, or baby car seats, were challenged with trying to get their product to work effectively in as many vehicles in the marketplace as possible.
Child restraints needed to utilise the three-point static safety belt of the vehicle as an anchorage medium. The diverse design features of so many different vehicles in the marketplace made this a formidable task, and hence manufacturers looked at an alternative medium to the three-point static belt for installation.
The ISOFIX anchorage points serve no function in a car other than to install a child restraint.
This joint venture between vehicle and the child-restraint market has arguably been the best development in the child restraint trade.
ISOFIX brackets in vehicles are U-shaped metal units mounted to the chassis of a vehicle. The specific size of these brackets is regulated by the car manufacturer industry safety standards. This ensures that all vehicles offering the ISOFIX brackets have universal sizing and hence allow child restraint manufacturers to design universal seats.
Where can I get it?
ISOFIX brackets are installed at vehicle manufacturer level. These have been available as an optional extra on some vehicles for a while now, but European legislation is attempting to enforce that all vehicles have these as standard.
In South Africa, the safety standards adopted by the vehicle industry are those of European legislation, and we will hopefully see all imported passenger vehicles with ISOFIX installed as standard in the future.
Is it expensive?
The ISOFIX anchorage points in the vehicle are inexpensive, however the child restrains that utilise these ISOFIX anchorage points are a more expensive than the seats that use the three-point safety belts.
The technology used for ISOFIX child restraints is considerably more advanced than its counterparts. The demand for ISOFIX child restraints is continually on the increase to the point that many parents are now looking for this option prior to their vehicle purchase.
Is ISOFIX located on specific points in the vehicle?
Yes. Mostly all vehicles have ISOFIX anchorage points in the rear of the vehicle, as it is the safest place to have a child restraint installed. Child restraint manufacturers provide information as to whether their seats are compatible with vehicles via a manual referred to as a Car Fitting List. It is mandatory that manufacturers provide this with all their ISOFIX seats sold, so as to allow you to predetermine whether your vehicle can accommodate an ISOFIX seat.