Child Car Safety Tips

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The laws for vehicle child restraints in many states and territories were updated following 2009 amendments to the Australian Road Rules. Your child restraint device must comply with the relevant law. In NSW for example, new child restraint laws were introduced in mid-2010 based mainly on the Australian Road Rules. In NSW, these rules include that:

Babies to six months: Must be restrained in a rearward facing restraint.
6 months to under four years: Children must be restrained in an approved rearward facing or forward facing restraint. Children under four years of age must not be in the front row of a vehicle with two or more rows.

Children from four to seven years of age: A forward facing restraint or booster seat must be used. Children from four to seven years of age must not be in the front row of a motor vehicle that has 2 or more rows of seats unless all of the other seats in the row or rows behind the front row are occupied by passengers who are also under 7 years old.

Under NSW law, if your child is too small for the restraint recommended for their age, they should stay in their current restraint. And if your child is too big for the restraint for their age they can move to the next level of restraint .

According to the NSW RTA, one of the important drivers for the new laws was that it was found that children were being moved from child restraints to adult seating at around five and half years of age and research indicated that this was too early. The RTA cites that a child’s bone structure is not developed sufficiently for adult safety belts and that a child restraint distributes the forces involved in a crash over the strongest part of the child's body. They further claim that children from four to seven years of age have the risk of injury reduced by 60 per cent when using a child restraint instead of an adult seat belt.


Consult your vehicle owner's manual and the restraints manual for information on how to install your selected safety seat properly. Each vehicle and each seat is different, so make sure you take the time to be precise and accurate. If you are unsure about how to install the seat, visit an authorised restraint-fitting centre to get your seat installed properly.

Before you take off

You can negate many of the risk factors that make travelling with a child in the car dangerous even before you leave your driveway.

Buying a well-fitting capsule, seat or booster and installing it correctly are the two critical factors, but you also need to securely and correctly buckle your child in. Children also tend to mimic adult behaviour so if you don't buckle-up, don't be surprised if your kids don't want to either.

Once the kids are safely buckled in, give the cabin a quick sweep and make sure any heavy objects that might fly around in an accident or sudden stop are secured. Better yet, place them in the boot. This is also a good opportunity to make sure there are no other kids or animals within the vicinity of the car so you can back out or pull away safely.

Be cautious and careful

Make sure your child stays securely buckled in while you are on the road, and don't hesitate to pull over and re-buckle your child if necessary. Ensure your children keep their hands, arms and head inside the car at all times and use secure door locks and window controls if available.
When it comes to keeping your children protected on the road, play it safe. A suitable restraint, properly installed and correctly used may help reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident. Drive carefully and cautiously by avoiding excessive speed and aggressive manoeuvres. Make sure nothing in the cabin can hurt your child in the unhappy event of a sudden stop and be prepared to act if it does happen.