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Are You Strapped In?

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car-seat-safety

Sadly, many motorists underestimate the importance of being properly strapped in. Nobody likes to anticipate or even think about the possibility of the worst, but it is sensible to still be cautious and follow the relevant safety precautions in order to protect you and your loved ones.

Babies and children are at a much higher risk than adults due to their size and weight. The inertia of a collision means that their tiny bodies are far more susceptible to damage if they are not correctly strapped in.

Australia has issued a country-wide set of age-appropriate guidelines that is in accordance with national legislation. Read these guidelines carefully – not only to avoid a hefty fine – but to ensure that your child’s car seat is adequately suited for their age and weight.

*Please note, these guidelines were correct at the time of publishing, you should check with your respective state legislation.

Children 0-6mths

  • Must be in a rearward-facing restraint with built-in five-point safety harness.
  • Are not permitted in the front seat of vehicles with two or more rows of seats.

Children 6mths – 4yrs

  • Must be in a rear or forward-facing restraint with a built-in five-point harness.
  • Are not permitted in the front seat of vehicles with two or more rows of seats.

Children 4-7yrs

  • Must be in a forward-facing restraint with a built-in safety harness or a booster seat with a lap sash seatbelt (this means a standard fitted seatbelt, not a lap-only belt) or a child safety harness.
  • If sitting in the front seat must be placed in an approved child restraint or booster seat.
  • Are not permitted in the front seat unless all rear seats are occupied by children less than seven years old.

Children who exceed weight / size guidelines for existing restraints will be able to use restraints suitable for the next age group.

It is also important to be aware that the backless booster seats are no longer permitted. The booster seat referred to in the 4-7yrs age group refers to one that still has a mounted backrest.

It is also highly recommended to choose a child restraint or booster seat that has been independently tested by the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP). This is a very intensive testing methodology with various test phases that assesses frontal and side impact angles at differing velocities. Each brand of child restraint was individually evaluated according to these test specifications.

CREP provides star ratings for crash protection and ease of use for a wide range of child restraints and booster seats. As ISOFIX compatible child restraints become available, they will be included in the CREP testing.

5 Star ratings have been awarded to the following booster seats:

  • Hipod Boston Series 4200/A/2010
  • Babylove Ezy Boost Series BL4400/A/2010
  • Safe-N-Sound Hi-Liner SG Series 4830/A/2010

Interestingly, these were the only 3 child restraints out of all the age ranges and product styles that received 5 Stars.

Once you have purchased a quality approved and age appropriate car seat, you need to ensure that it is correctly installed. RACQ offers a list of Approved Restraint Fitting Centres. It is highly advisable to get your child’s car seat professionally fitted. Even car seats with a 5-star rating can be hazardous if they are not correctly mounted.

The statistics are alarming. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, data collected for the period 1999-2003 revealed that transportation accidents were responsible for 1,473 child injury fatalities, whereas accidental child drowning only accounted for 286 fatalities during the same period.

Safety should always be your number 1 priority when driving. It only takes a little bit of extra time to ensure that your family is protected. Our busy schedules mean that we are always rushing around to meet deadlines; but always remember: It is better to arrive late than to not arrive at all.

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