The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging parents and caregivers to plan for changes to child restraint laws, which come into force in less than 3 months. From 1 November 2013, mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by 2 years, with all children required to be correctly secured in an approved restraint until their seventh birthday.
NZTA Road Safety Director Ernst Zöllner says, 'When used correctly, child restraints are proven to save lives and prevent serious injuries in a crash. We want to make sure that all parents have the information they need to make sure their children are safely secured in an approved child restraint whenever they travel.'
An approved child restraint is one that meets approved standards so parents and caregivers can be sure its design and construction is laboratory tested under crash conditions. Approved child restraints include:
- infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)
- restraints for older babies, toddlers, and preschool children (often called car seats)
- booster seats for preschool and school-aged children
- child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children.
The most suitable type of child restraint required to keep a child safe will vary depending on the child's size. In addition, if families have multiple children and child restraints it's important to find out the best combination for their children and their vehicle.
When a child is large enough to sit in a booster seat, parents and caregivers need to ensure they're seated at the correct height for the safety belt to protect them in a crash. If not positioned correctly, the shoulder portion of a safety belt can cut across a child's neck and face and in the event of a crash can cause severe upper neck and spinal trauma.
Zöllner said for safety reasons child restraints used in New Zealand must be 'approved' and must display standards markings to show they are approved and safe to be used.
It's important that drivers make sure any children travelling in their vehicle are correctly secured in a well-fitted and approved child restraint until they are 7, no matter how short the journey.
→ Read information on approved standards for child restraints and a list of certified Child Restraint Technicians on the NZTA website (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/students-parents/child-restraints.html)
→ Read Safekids campaign, 'The Higher You Sit, The Safer the Fit – Keep kids safe when travelling on the road' (http://www.safekids.org.nz/index.php/page/11). Safekids says that adult seat belts don't fit children properly until they're 148cm tall, which is why it's so important for pre-school and school-aged kids to stay in an appropriate child restraint or booster seat.
Note: In New Zealand, child restraints must comply with these approved standards:
- AS/NZS 1754 Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles
- American standard FMVSS 213
- European standard shown by E3 (or another number depicting the European country).
Summarised from the NZTA website and an NZTA media release, 21 Aug 2013.