The outcome of this crash could have been very different had the occupants not been restrained correctly; an occurrence which is sadly seen on our roads on a regular basis.
According to Kidsafe, more children die from injury in Australia than from cancer and diseases of the nervous system combined. The MAIN cause of child deaths from unintentional injury in Australia are CAR CRASHES and driveway runovers. Most children who die or are injured in car crashes in Australia, were not properly restrained in the car.
Check your children’s car seats TODAY!
We have all heard that child car seats, booster seats and seatbelts save lives and prevent injuries. However, it is only when child car seats and booster seats are installed correctly and are used correctly that they can effectively do their job of saving lives and preventing injuries in a crash. The same applies to seatbelts.
Buying a car seat or booster seat for your child is one of the most important purchases you will ever make. It has the potential to save their life. Buy a new seat. Don’t risk your child’s life by buying a second hand seat if you don’t know the seat’s history. Only use seats that are less than 10 years old from the date of manufacture to ensure optimum safety in a crash. Destroy all child car seats that have been involved in a crash. They are no longer safe to be used.
Read the instruction manual several times - keep it in a safe place. Follow all instructions exactly. Familiarise yourself with all functions of the seat. Practice installing it in the car and practice fitting a doll into the seat and adjusting the straps BEFORE the birth of your baby. (Infants must use a REAR-FACING car seat). Use the correct seatbelt path. Attach the tether to the anchor point. If in doubt, visit an authorised installer for advice.
Adjust the harness straps to fit your child snugly over their shoulders and body. This is your child’s safety net in a crash. Loose, twisted straps cannot protect your child in a crash, and can cause severe injuries or ejection from the vehicle. Adjust the seat as the child grows. Raise the harness straps and the headrest (if fitted) to ensure a correct fit. Remove newborn padding and inserts once the child outgrows them. Thick bulky coats and blankets will interfere with the straps and cause them to be too loose. Place coats and blankets OVER the adjusted straps.
Regularly check that your child car seats are installed correctly. Make sure they have not become loose. Check that the tether is correctly attached to the anchor point. Check that the seatbelt has not been accidentally unbuckled.
Rear-facing is the safest way for babies and toddlers to travel. Keep them rear-facing until they outgrow the height or weight limit of the seat. Choose a seat that allows for rear-facing for as long as possible.
Forward-facing children are safest using a child car seat with an in-built harness. Keep them in a seat with an in-built harness until they outgrow the height or weight limit of the seat. Choose a seat that will keep your child in an in-built harness for as long as possible.
Older children are safest using a booster seat which lifts them up to the correct height to ensure the seatbelt fits them correctly. Keep them in a booster seat until they outgrow the height or weight limit of the booster seat. Choose a booster seat that will fit your child for as long as possible. Keep older kids in a booster seat until they can safely pass the Five Step Test to use the adult seatbelt alone.
Children are safest in the back seat of the car. Keep them in the back seat until they are 12 years old or 145cm tall. Front airbags are deployed at a speed of around 200km/hr. They are designed to protect the largest male adults and can cause serious injuries to small children sitting in the front seat.
Always ensure that seatbelts are worn correctly. The shoulder strap should sit on the strong collar bone between the shoulder and the neck. The lap belt should sit low on the lap across the strong hip bones. The shoulder strap of the seatbelt should NEVER be worn under the arm or behind the back. All passengers should avoid using a lap-only belt as this leaves them with no upper body protection in a crash.
Remember: Seatbelts, airbags and cars are designed to fit adults, not children. This is why child car seats and booster seats are so important to ensure that the crash forces are distributed across the correct areas of a child’s much smaller body.
Accessory H-Harnesses are no longer recommended by safety experts due to the high rate of incorrect usage and high rate of injuries as a result. Keep children in a car seat with an in-built harness for as long as possible, then keep them in a booster seat with the adult seatbelt for as long as possible. H-Harnesses should only be used as a last resort when the only available seatbelt is a lap-only belt, and they should be adjusted correctly for every trip.
Keep your whole family safe, every trip, every time. Buckle up everyone correctly. Safely restrain your pets. Keep an uncluttered car, free from potential projectiles in a crash. Pack mobile phones safely away in a storage compartment, turned off until you reach your destination. Don’t drive distracted. Don’t drive tired. Drive free from alcohol and drugs. Don’t speed. Share the road respectfully with all other road users. Let’s cut the road toll.
Summary of the Australian National Road Rules for Children in Cars
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers and children are correctly restrained. Heavy fines apply for failing to correctly restrain children in motor vehicles. Remember, the road rules are the bare minimum legal requirement. For maximum safety, keep your child in each stage of restraint for as long as they still fit before progressing to the next stage.
**If your child outgrows their current seat BEFORE the legal age limit, invest in a new seat with higher limits to keep them safely and legally restrained for longer**
What type of seat?
Newborn to 6 months must use a rear-facing seat with in-built harness.
6 months to 4 years must use a rear-facing OR forward-facing seat with in-built harness.
4 years to 7 years must use a seat with an in-built harness OR a booster seat with adult seatbelt.
7 years to 16 years must use a child restraint/booster seat OR a properly fitted adult seatbelt.
Drivers and passengers over 16 years must wear a properly fitted adult seatbelt.
Where can they sit?
Children under 4 years must not sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has 2 or more rows of seats.
Children between 4 years and 7 years must not sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has 2 or more rows of seats UNLESS all the back seats are occupied by younger children.
**In the event that a child between the age of 4 to 7 years needs to use the front seat, they MUST use an untethered booster seat, with the front seat moved back away from the front airbags. If a passenger over the age of 7 years needs to use the front seat and they do not pass the Five Step Test to use the adult seatbelt alone, they MUST use an untethered booster seat.**
For MAXIMUM safety, go beyond the legal minimums.