Special purpose car seats
There are a range of special purpose car seats available in Australia, designed for children with disabilities and medical conditions
Special purpose car seats are designed to support the transport needs of children with disabilities and medical conditions, travelling in motor vehicles.
Special purpose car seats come with an extensive range of features and cater for older and larger children, unlike Australian standard car seats which cater for children up to 10-12 years. These features can improve the child’s positioning, comfort and safety, with some offering a swivel base to help parents and carers transferring the child in and out of a vehicle.
Advancing knowledge and research
All special purpose car seats available in Australia come from overseas, and comply with overseas standards and regulations. To ensure we have independent knowledge about these car seats MACA has established the world-leading Australian Safety Assessment Program (AuSAP). This program assesses the safety and performance of special purpose car seats and aims to make sure that families of children with disabilities and medical conditions have access to suitable and safe child restraint systems.
AuSAP recently completed its first round of sled crash testing. The results are currently being analysed and will inform the development of resources to support allied health professionals in their prescribing role. AuSAP importantly aims to give parents greater choice in vehicle transport decisions that affect their child and family.
This feature is only available on special purpose car seats. It is designed to make it easier for parents and carers to transfer the child in and out of the vehicle. Our national survey showed transferring children was the biggest challenge for parents.
This ranges from optional buckles (e.g. pen popper) to add-on features. Our national survey highlighted that children getting out of their car seat and/or seatbelt, whilst the vehicle is moving, is a significant challenge for families.
Extra postural support
This may include extra
padding/inserts, pommel, abductor wedge, lateral trunk support, and
extra head support to assist with comfort and positioning.
Footrests are often provided with levels of adjustment
to cater for the child's size and need. Most footrests work in
combination with a swivel base.
This may be built-in to the car seat or provided as an optional feature. Most special purpose car seats provide greater recline capability than Australian standard car seats.
This attaches to the special purpose car seat offering additional support for the child's upper limb positioning.
Larger vehicle restraint options
Special purpose car seats also offer larger vehicle restraint options than Australian standard car seats, catering for bigger children and adults (e.g up to 75 kilos). Australian standard car seats generally cater for children up to approximately 10-12 years of age.
Safe use of special purpose child restraints
All special purpose car seats have built-in harnesses. However, in some cases the built-in harness is provided for postural support only. This can be confusing as people may assume the built-in harness is designed to protect the child in a crash, and do not use the vehicle seatbelt around the child and the car seat. MACA's special purpose car seat product pages include this icon with those special purpose car seats requiring the vehicle seatbelt to be used.