450px-isofix_anchorpointsIsofix is a European standard for a “fixed” install of a car seat, US have a similar standard called LATCH. This standard make it far easier to install a car seat.  Is it safer?  It depends.

A rear facing car seat correctly installed with a seat belt offer the same safety as Isofix/LATCH.  The problem is with the term “correctly installed”. Research has shown that almost all parents believe their car seat is correctly installed.  What is reality?  A high percentage of car seats are incorrectly installed.

Isofix is just like rear facing, the Swedes came up with it starting in the 1980’s.  Studies from different countries showed that about half of all car seats were partly or completely incorrectly installed. The main reason for the incorrect install was difficult installation procedures, customers simply had trouble understanding how to correctly place car seat in the car.

Swedish companies and institutions lead research into  a standard which would be safe and effective and also could be places in all new vehicles.  Development was finished in 1996 but the standard was not implemented until 2002 in US and 2004 in Europe (ECE).

Advantages of Isofix:

  • Easy install: The main advantage is the easy install which basically gets rid of the high percentage of parents installing car seats incorrectly
  • Easy construction: Another advantage is the easy construction of the Isofix standard.  Today, prices are higher but if every manufacturer uses the same Isofix system prices will come down sharply.

Disadvantages of Isofix:

  • Price: Isofix car seats are today significantly more expensive than regular car seats. Price difference is 40-50%.  Prices will come down as more parents start buying Isofix seats but right now it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation.
  • Weight limit: The weight limit of rear facing Isofix seats is 18kg. (40 lbs) which is low by Swedish standards.  The recommendation in Sweden is to keep children rear facing until age 4 which can be difficult with a 40 lbs weight limit.  There are discussions on changing the Isofix limit to 22 kg. (48 lbs) but decision and implementation is years away.

Right now Isofix does make car seat usage more safe due to minimizing incorrect installations.  But prices need to come down before adaption gets more wiedespread.

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