It was Boxing Day 2011 and a five-year old girl was travelling in the backseat of her grandmother’s car. The grandmother lost control of the car on a bend on the Pacific Highway near Lismore in northern NSW. The five-year old, probably still giddy with joy after Christmas, was catapulted from the car and died instantly.
She was not restrained in a car seat.
On December 6, 2011, while a tiny eight-week-old baby was carefully wrapped in a blanket and placed in a second-hand capsule, the car she was travelling in slammed into a tree near Kilcoy in Queensland.
Baby Isabella Cardwell – who was incorrectly restrained in her capsule – was thrown more than two metres from the vehicle and died, along with her 19-year old mother who was driving the car.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nissan. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in her own words.
Kidsafe and Neuroscience Research Australia recently launched new guidelines on car seats and called on the Federal Government to upgrade the laws.
They said that the current legislation is complicated and confusing, with no centralised reference point and conflicting guidelines on what car seats to install for children.
As it is so confusing we’ve put together a simple guide to what restraint you should use, if you’re wondering ‘which car seat should i buy?’
Rearward Facing Child Restraint
These are for children from birth, with a built-in five or six point harness, where the child faces the rear of the car.
The new recommendations suggest that parents should keep their children in a rearward facing position until they are too tall for their seat, stating that this may not be until they are two or three years of age.
Currently most parents transfer their babies to a forward facing restraint around the age of six months.
Mother of two Rebecca runs the Facebook page “Rearward Facing Downunder”, a lobby group who have been running a campaign to get the National Child Restraint Laws changed to keep younger children in a rearward facing position longer.
Rebecca’s two children Evie, five months, and George, aged three and a half , both sit in rearward facing car seats.
She says it was research from Sweden that convinced her to keep her children in this position.
“Keeping children rearward facing until age four has been common practice in Sweden for around 50 years,” she said” where their child road fatality rate is near zero every year.”
Forward Facing Child Restraint
For children who have outgrown their rear facing restraint they can then go into a forward-facing one. They recommend you keep them forward facing up to at least four years of age, and to use the height guide rather than their age to know when to move your child into the next stage.
Neuroscience Australia say that you should be in no hurry to move your child out of a forward facing restraint and into a booster.
A new forward-facing restraint may soon become available which can be used up to approximately eight years of age.
Boosters are for children who have outgrown their forward facing restraint. In the guidelines Neuroscienece Australia recommend you keep children “up to and including 12 years of age “ in the back seat of the car and in a booster seat.
“A booster seat reduces the risk of serious neck, abdominal and lumbar spine injuries in. Many parents stop using boosters too early because they don’t understand the benefits.” said Professor Lynne Bilston from Neuroscience Australia.
The biggest change in these recommendations is the call to keep kids in a booster longer.
There is a test you can do to see whether your “tween” is ready for the grown-up seat.
It’s called the 5 Point test:
- Can your child sit with their back flat against the back of the seat?
- Do their legs bend comfortably past the edge of the seat?
- Does the belt cross between the neck and shoulder?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, across the tops of thighs and hip bones?
- Can the child stay seated like this the whole trip?
If yes to all 5 then they are ready for an adult seat belt.
When I was doing research for this post one of the more disturbing facts I came across was that 51 children under the age of 14 die on China’s roads every day.
That’s 18,500 deaths every year.
It’s a shocking figure when you correlate it with the fact that the majority of our car seats are actually made in China, however the Chinese – especially the middle class don’t use car seats, in China only 1 in every 100 families with a child use them.
This awful statistic drives home just how important our homegrown car seat regulations are.
So, is your child sitting in the right safety restraint?
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For more information or to see it from a kids point of view, click here.