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Child Car Restraints - Don't Skimp

22 May 2006 3:28 AM -

A recent RACQ survey showed that parents were putting their children at risk by incorrectly using child restraints in cars. The survey showed almost half of four to seven-year-olds are being transported dangerously. And many parents – more than one in three – are mistakenly using adult seatbelts alone to restrain toddlers – a practice which can cause severe injuries to young children in a crash. Forty-five percent of children surveyed were being driven around in unsuitably fitted restraints, the incorrect type of car seat and, worst of all, without any specific child restraint at all. Most alarming to the organisers of the survey was that 1 in 10 toddlers were traveling in the front seat, a practice considered negligent to safety advocates, given front seatbelts and airbags are only designed to restrain adult passengers.

The most common mistake made by parents was incorrectly assuming that their child had outgrown booster seats and allowing their child to use an adult seatbelt. Safety advocates stated that children should remain in either a booster seat or a safety harness until at least 26kg, when they can progress to an adult seatbelt. Even then, they should stay in back seat until the reach the age of 12 years. A recent study by Holden estimated that 1300 children are severely injured or killed in car crashes each year and estimated that about 70 per cent of restraints were being used incorrectly or fitted wrongly.

RACQ RECOMMENDED CHILD CAR RESTRAINTS

Infants

  • Baby capsule: 0-9kg (approx. 6mths old)
  • Convertible restraint: 0-18kg (approx. 4 yrs old)

Toddlers

  • Convertible restraints: 0-18kg (approx. 4 yrs old)
  • Forward facing toddler seat : 8-18kg (6mth-4yrs)
  • Convertible booster seat: 8-26kg (approx. 2-7 yrs)

Older children

  • Booster seat: 14-26kg (approx. 4-7 yrs old)
  • Safety harness: 14-32kg (approx. 4-8 yrs old)
  • Adult seat belt: 26kg upward (approx. 7 yrs old – back seat)
  • Adult seat belt in front seat: 12 years old and older

For more information on child restraints and fitment bookings, call RACQ on 07 3872 8926 or 1800 816 523 (country callers). Also look for RACQ's ‘Facts on Child Restraints' booklet at branch offices and agencies, and on the RACQ website at http://www.racq.com.au/ .

Source:

‘Restraining Pain', RACQ Road Ahead, April/May 2006, pp. 6-7.