As many as 28 Australian children under the age of 10 are killed every year in car accidents. A further 2773 are injured as a result of road trauma.
And far too many of those deaths and injuries could be prevented with the use of proper child restraints.
Children who are not restrained properly are up to seven times more likely to be injured in a crash than children who are restrained properly.
And if those opening facts didn’t scare you enough, get ready for this: Research suggests that up to 60 per cent of children in Australia aren’t travelling in the correct child restraint. 60 per cent.
Safety of children is paramount to parents. We all know that.
But with so much information being thrown at you on a daily basis and so many different products available, it can be difficult to know where to start.
This little cheat sheet will help you and parents you know, to better understand the kind of restraint your child should be sitting in. Read it, share it with your friends, ask them to share it with their friends and their friends’ friends. And together let’s make damn sure our kids are travelling safe.
If you have children between the ages of 0 and 6 months:
If your child is less than 6 months old, they should sit in an approved rearward facing infant restraint such as an infant carrier or capsule. These restraints have an inbuilt harness and are held in place by the vehicle’s seat belt.
If you have children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years:
As a general rule, if your child is between the ages of 6 months and 4 years, they should be secured in either an approved rear or forward facing restraint. The age is just a guide – your child should stay in their restraint as long as they fit comfortably.
(The exact point when your child can be moved to a forward facing seat will depend on their size. You can find more information about that here)
If you have children between the ages of 4 years and 7 years:
Again it will depend on your child’s size. But if your child is between the ages of 4 and 7 they should be seated in an approved forward facing child safety seat or a booster seats with either a properly adjusted adult seat belt or an H-Harness. Children in this age bracket cannot travel in the front seat of the car unless all the rear seats are occupied by younger passengers.
If you have children over the age of 7:
Just because a child turns 7, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be ready to graduate to an adult seat belt. When your child’s shoulders don’t fit into the restraint anymore – or their eye level is higher than the back of the booster seat – it’s probably time to move to an adult restraint. But if they still fit? Safer to keep them there.
(It’s important to note that there are some slight differences between the states particularly regarding rules for taking your kids in taxis. You can find details about the state laws here.)
The right time for a child to sit in the front seat of the car.
Most parents don’t know the answer to this question. The truth is that a child’s age is irrelevant when it comes to moving up to the grown up world of an adult seat – it’s all about the development of the PARTICULAR child who is travelling and how fast they’re growing.
Even at 7 years of age, the chances are that most kids won’t be tall enough for an adult seat belt. So no matter what your child’s friends are being allowed to do and regardless of how much pressure your child is putting on you to be allowed to be more ‘grown up’ – ask yourself these four questions before making the switch:
1. Are your child’s legs shorter than the depth of the seat?
2. Does the seat belt cross over your child’s face or neck?
3. Does the lap belt ride up onto your child’s abdomen during normal use?
4. Does your child wriggle and slump to the side during trips?
If you answered yes to any? They’re not ready. No matter how much they think they might be.
Fortunately Britax Safe-n-Sound have been the first to create a Booster that can accommodate a child from approximately 4 years to 10. The first of its kind in Australia. For further information visit their website. Join the Britax Australia Facebook page for further tips and advice surrounding your child’s safety in a vehicle.
For your chance to win one of two Britax Booster seats, leave a comment below on how booster seats have helped your child. You must be a Mamamia member to enter. Competition closes 21-02-2013.