New Child Restraint Laws come into effect
Baby in car seat
The new laws will mean new-born babies and children up to four years old will have to be fastened in a child restraint, while children aged four to seven must be secured in a forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
Presently it is only compulsory for children up to the age of one to travel in approved baby capsules or seats which contain their own restraints. The new laws are named after Isabelle Broadhead who died at three years of age due to seatbelt injuries sustained in a low-speed car accident in 2006- the Road Amendment (Isabelle Broadhead Child Restraint Measures) Rules 2010.
“We are bringing in these changes as part of a national effort to better protect children in cars,” Mr Campbell said.
“The regulations will mean all children aged up to seven will be required to travel in an approved child restraint and will make sure they are protected when travelling in a vehicle.
“We know that seating children aged four to seven in a booster seat reduces the risk of injury in a crash by almost 60 per cent, when compared to sitting in an adult seatbelt without a booster seat.”
In the five years from 2004 to 2008, 23 children under the age of four were killed and 846 were injured in crashes. At least five of those killed and 236 of those injured were not fitted with a child restraint.
There were a further 15 fatalities and 893 injuries of child passengers in the four to six year age group. At least 11 of those killed and 615 of those injured were not using a child restraint.
“Nationally, the statistics are horrific with around 80 children killed and almost 4,000 injured each year,” Mr Campbell said.
“Many of these tragedies can be prevented and this is what we’re hoping to do.”
From tomorrow: • Children younger than six months must be secured in rearward facing restraints;
• Children between six months and four years must be secured in either a rear or forward facing restraint;
• Children between four and seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat;
• Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows;
• Children between four and less than seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.
“We realise this is a significant change for families – we don’t make a change like this lightly,” Mr Campbell said.
“But I believe it’s one worth making.
“There will be a four month period of grace while parents make the adjustment.
“For around $100 for a booster seat, families can reduce the risks and even save lives.”
The RTA has launched a public education campaign on the new laws, including extensive advertising.
Information about the new regulations has also been sent to hospitals, children’s services, local councils, shops selling child restraints as well as key agencies who deal with young children and families.
“I’d encourage parents to call the RTA or visit its website for guidelines on restraints, information about the level of safety and a list of approved restraints,” said Mr Campbell
“The RTA offers expert fitting services and has more than 190 authorised restraint fitting stations across NSW.”
If parents are unsure about the installation of a child restraint they should phone the RTA on 13 22 13 or visit www.rta.nsw.gov.au to find their closest authorised fitting station. More information on the changes - including Frequently Asked Questions - is also available by visiting the RTA website.