In 1992, the Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW (now Roads and Maritime Services), the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) and the Australian Consumers’ Association (ACA) combined their resources to design and implement a child restraint evaluation program.
The purpose of this program was to provide consumers with valuable information; and to apply commercial and public consumer pressure on manufacturers to deliver Child Restraint Systems (CRS) that performed well beyond the requirements of the Australian Standard.
Initially the program was comprised of three assessment units;
- an assessment of dynamic crash performance, for which the RTA took responsibility;
- an evaluation of ease of installation and use, the trials for which were designed and conducted by the ACA; and
- an assessment of vehicle compatibility, which came under the control of the NRMA.
The original ease of installation and use trials were modelled on a draft International Standard Organisation for Child Restraint System (CRS) fitting trial standard that required recruitment of child and adult subjects. This method proved to be a relatively expensive and time consuming exercise. Following publication of the results from the first CREP series, the protocols were simplified and combined with the NRMA’s vehicle compatibility trial. This combination was then used for CREP Stages 2 (1996) and 3 (1999-2000).
More recently, the Insurance Corporation British Columbia (Canada), the USA’s National Highways Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) and the Consumer Union (CU) (a North American organisation), developed more advanced ease-of-use assessment models for CRS assessment. This development, together with concerns that the CREP dynamic performance assessment was not keeping pace with the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) led to a review of the CREP assessment procedures in 2005. The outcomes of this review were more comprehensive ease-of-use assessment, a revised dynamic test and innovative scoring protocols (Brown et al, 2005). These revised protocols formed the basis of assessment for the CREP stage 4 series.
In response to a new Australian Standard being released in 2010, an updated CREP protocol was developed. To keep pressure on manufacturers to produce better child restraints, the updated protocol has tougher performance requirements than previous versions. This new protocol forms the basis of the current CREP stage 5 series from 2012.
Throughout the history of CREP the public has been informed of the testing results through the production and distribution of brochures.