01.New child safety restraint rules
Please note: this information was current as of December 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
The reform was announced in January 2008, but until now has only recently been implemented in Victoria and Tasmania. The new laws have been designed to provide greater protection for children when travelling and will be rolled out across the rest of Australia throughout 2010 .
The previous law on car restraints required children up to one year old to use an approved and properly fitted child car restraint, although parents were strongly encouraged to use suitable child seats and booster seats for older children. However, it was found children were being moved to a bigger seat too early, increasing their risk of injury or death in the event of an accident.
Road accidents are the major cause of death and injury to children in Australia, and by using an approved child car restraint parents can significantly reduce the risk. The laws offer extra guidance on the safety of children and require the following:
- Children under six months to wear an approved, rearward-facing child restraint or infant capsule.
- Children aged between six months and under four years to wear an approved, rearward-facing child restraint or forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness.
- Children aged between four years and under seven years to wear an approved forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness or approved booster seat.
- Children under four years old also must not occupy the front seat of a car that has back seats. However, if all back seats are occupied by children under four, a child aged between four and seven may occupy the front seat, in an approved forward-facing child restraint or booster seat.
A child who is too tall or heavy for their age group’s required restraint should instead use one for the next age group. Taxis will continue to be exempt from these new laws, but parents are encouraged to bring their own car restraint when using one. When looking for a child car restraint, ensure it complies with the Australian and New Zealand standard AS1754 or AS/NZS1754. Make sure you follow the instructions if you’re installing the restraint yourself; contact your state’s or territory’s road traffic authority if you need help. They can provide information about the correct restraint for your child and direct you to an authorised fitting station.
A probationary period exists in which parents and carers can buy the correct restraints and harnesses. However, you will receive a fine and incur demerit points if you don’t comply with the new regulations once they’re fully enforced. To find out more, visit www.kidsafe.com.au and select your state or territory, or visit your state/territory government’s website.
Baby capsule Child seat Booster seat