A new rule increasing the age of mandatory child restraint use is a positive step in the safety of kiwi kids, says Kelly Good, car safety technician based in Central Otago.
This new law will raise the age of children that are required to be in an appropriate car restraint up to the age of seven. Those aged between seven and eight must use one if it is available.
This change is a beginning to bring New Zealand in line with safety standards around the world and is the start of reducing the rate of child injury on NZ roads. A national survey of restraint use in New Zealand by children aged 5-9 years was carried out in October 2011, of the 6,300 vehicles observed only 23 percent of the children in the survey were restrained in child restraints of various types.
“Being a mother of two, I understand the challenges around ensuring that your children remain in booster seats in every car journey, however when weighed up against the possibilities of internal injuries or worse, I see this as a truly positive step to ensure parents keep kids in booster seats for as long as possible.”
When a child is involved in a car crash and has been restrained using a seatbelt that doesn’t fit properly it can cause severe head, spine or abdominal injury. According to the most recent research into the effectiveness of booster seats from the American Academy of Paediatrics, “children aged 4 to 8 using a belt-positioning booster seat had approximately half the injury risk as children just using an adult seat belt.”
Without a booster seat, an adult seatbelt sits too high on a child. The lap part of the belt rides up over their tummy and the sash part lies across the neck. The seatbelt ends up riding up against the squishy part of their tummy, in a crash this can result in terrible injuries including ruptured livers and spleens
With this knowledge any age increase is a positive step for New Zealand. What price do you put on child’s safety? There are solutions out there that are convenient, portable and that kids will want to sit on, no price is too high.