Infants being transported in prams and strollers are subject to a range of hazards which can cause injuries which include finger and limb pinching and crushing, falls, strangulation, etc.
In order to reduce or eliminate these hazards Australian and overseas standards for prams and strollers have been created and are periodically updated.
Standards specify a wide range of tests which enable designers of prams and strollers to identify potential hazards and eliminate them.
However, while over time this process of continual updating and strengthening standards has resulted in the design of prams and strollers becoming increasingly safe, there are still hazards which can be avoided only by the awareness, vigilance and appropriate behaviour of the pram or stroller’s carer.
These hazards include the dangers of the pram or stroller -
- running away because the carer assumed the pavement was level and accordingly neglected to apply the brake.
- tipping over due to the common practice of mothers loading bags on the handle to the point where the pram or stroller becomes unstable – despite that every set of instructions issued warns against the practice.
The ‘Coolamon’ eliminates or significantly reduces both these hazards because:
- it is fitted with an automatic anti-runaway brake and,
- the basket is large enough to eliminate the need to carry bags hung on the handle.
Background to the Anti-runaway Automatic brake fitted to the ‘Coolamon’
The problem with the brakes fitted to current prams and strollers is that, whenever the carer stops holding the handle it is left to the carer’s discretion as to whether the brakes are applied – typically this involves a simple action of pressing a brake lever by foot.
If the carer incorrectly assumes that the pavement under the pram or stroller is level or fails to anticipate a wind gust or other forces such as pushing by a young child, the pram or stroller can runaway and create the risk of serious injury to the child in the vehicle.
The Australian experience since 2004:
- Two confirmed deaths when strollers ran away into a lake.
- A father, toddler and baby died when the baby's stroller ran off the end of a pier.
- Numerous instances where strollers ran off suburban rail platforms onto the rail tracks in both Melbourne and Sydney.
- Numerous instances when strollers ran down sloping suburban driveways – typically while the mother was unloading shopping and children from the family car parked in the driveway.
The solution to the runaway problem is to manufacture and supply prams and strollers with an auxiliary automatic brake which engages whenever the carer releases the handle and disengages whenever the carer grasps the handle.
While there are a now a number of designs for mechanical or electronic automatic brakes for prams and strollers, none have yet been accepted by the market – either because of high cost or, commonly among the mechanical solutions which utilize a dead mans handle system, because the force which rapidly fatigues the carer’s hand.
The Australian and New Zealand safety standard for prams and strollers was upgraded in 2009 - AS/NZS 2088:2009 and a provision for an automatic brake was added.
The automatic brake that will be supplied on the ‘Coolamon’ is a patented system where the force on the dead mans handle mechanism is minimal and which will not fatigue the carer’s hand – called the ‘Featherlite’.