Keeping children as safe as possible while travelling in

Keeping children as safe as possible while travelling in
Keeping children as safe as possible
while travelling in motor vehicles:
A guide for parents, carers and road safety practitioners
© Neuroscience Research Australia and Kidsafe Australia 2013
Copies of this document can be downloaded from http://www.kidsafe.com.au/crguidelines
Suggested citation
Neuroscience Research Australia and Kidsafe Australia. Keeping children as safe as possible while
travelling in motor vehicles: A guide for parents, carers and road safety practitioners. Sydney: 2013
Disclaimer
This document is a general guide to appropriate practice, to be followed subject to the specific
circumstances of the family, child and vehicle in which the child is travelling. The guide is designed to
provide information to assist decision-making and is based on the best available evidence at the
time of development of this publication.
Contents
Acknowledgments
3
Top 10 ways to keep children as safe as possible while travelling in motor vehicles
4
About these Guidelines
5
Background
5
What is not covered
5
What are the different types of child restraints?
6
Recommendations for keeping children as safe as possible
7
General points – for all ages
7
Moving a child from one restraint stage to the next
7
When they outgrow their rear facing child restraint
8
Children aged 4 years and older
9
Older children in an adult seat belts
10
When an airbag is present
12
Safe installation and safe use of child restraints
13
Rental cars and taxis
14
Public Transport
15
Troop carriers, vans and utes/utility vehicles
15
Additional seats
16
Older restraints
16
Child safety harnesses (H- harnesses)
17
Child restraint accessories
17
For further information
19
2
Acknowledgments
The development of these guidelines was supported by funding from the following
organizations.
Funding Organisation
Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI) South
Australia
Justice and Community Safety Directorate, ACT Government (JACS)
Motor Accident Authority of New South Wales (MAA)
Motor Accident Insurance Commission of Queensland (MAIC)
Northern Territory Department of Health
Queensland Roads
Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)
The National Roads and Motorists Association of NSW (NRMA)
Transport Accident Commission of Victoria (TAC)
Transport for New South Wales
VicRoads – The Victorian Roads Authority
Victorian Department of Health
3
Top 10 ways to keep children as safe as possible while
travelling in motor vehicles
This resource contains a lot of detailed information that people who are responsible for
children travelling in motor vehicles should take the time to read. To help digest it all, this
page provides a summary of the 10 most important things that can help keep a child safe in
the event of a crash.
1.
The use of any restraint is preferable to not using a restraint. It is the law that each
person in a motor vehicle has their own restraint.
2.
Infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing restraint as long as they still fit in
their rear facing restraint. While the law allows children over 6 months to use either a
rear facing restraint or a forward facing restraint, the rear facing restraint offers better
protection as long as the child fits in it.
3.
Once a child is too tall for their rear facing child restraint, they should use a forwardfacing child restraint (with built-in 6 point harness) until they are too tall for it. While
the law allows children 4 years and older to use either a forward-facing child restraint or a
booster seat, the forward-facing child restraint offers better protection as long as the
child fits in it.
4.
Once a child is too tall for a forward facing child restraint, they should use a booster
seat with a lap-sash seat belt until they are tall enough to fit properly into an adult seat
belt. While the law allows children 7 years and older to use either a booster seat or a seat
belt by itself, a booster seat offers better protection as long as the child fits in it.
5.
For a child in a booster seat or an adult seatbelt, use a seating position with a lap-sash
(lap and shoulder) belt in preference to one with a lap-only belt.
6.
All child restraints and booster seats must be installed correctly and the child strapped
in correctly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions:
a. Always use a top tether strap for all rearward facing child restraints, forward
facing child restraints and booster seats that have them.
b. Always thread the seatbelt through the correct path (following the colour coding
available for newer restraints).
c. Ensure there is no slack or looseness in any part of the system. Check the harness
straps around the child, the top tether, the seatbelt anchoring the restraint to the
vehicle, and the seatbelt used by a child in a booster seat.
d. Check that the seat belt is buckled before each trip.
7.
Children 12 years of age and under are safest in the rear seat.
8.
Seat belts should never be used with the sash belt under the child’s arm or behind the
child’s back, whether they are being used alone or with a booster seat.
9.
When planning any journey with children, use a motor vehicle which allows each child to
be in the appropriate restraint for their size.
10. Regularly check that child restraints are correctly installed and that the
restraint is adjusted properly for the child’s size according to the restraint
users’ manual. Using a restraint fitting service will help ensure that
everything is used correctly and that your child is as safe as possible.
An illustrated summary brochure is available from:
http://www.neura.edu.au/crs-guidelines
4
About these Guidelines
Background
These guidelines were developed under the auspices of Kidsafe Australia and
Neuroscience Research Australia, by a panel of child road safety experts. They
were approved by the National Health and Medical Council of Australia in June
2013. Full details are available from:
http://www.neura.edu.au/crs-guidelines
The aim of these guidelines is to provide parents, carers, and road safety
practitioners with clear advice on optimal use of child restraints and seat belts
by children aged 0-16 years when travelling in motor vehicles, to minimize their
risk of injury in the event of a crash.
The recent introduction of laws in all Australian states and territories introduced
changes to the child restraint requirements for all children up to the age of 7
years. These laws have been based on a better understanding of how children
can be protected in a motor vehicle crash. The available evidence shows that
there is more that can be done above and beyond the new child restraint laws,
to minimise injury to child passengers, by encouraging best practice child
restraint use.
This resource sets out what can be done by those responsible for transporting children in
motor vehicles to ensure their optimal safety.
The advice is based on a thorough review of published studies, within Australia and
internationally, (see www.neura.edu.au/crs-guidelines) which examined:
 The safest restraint type for children of different sizes, and when a child should move from
one restraint type to another;
 The safest seating position for children within a passenger vehicle, and how the presence of
airbags might influence seating position choices;
 The safest way in which a child restraint or seat belt is installed and used.
Where the research was scarce or lacking, the advice of a panel of national child restraints
experts considered the situation and a “best practice” recommendation is provided.
As more research becomes available, some of these recommendations may change. But at the
time of publication, they represent the best advice based on the scientific research available.
What is not covered
It is not within the scope of these guidelines to cover:
 Guidance for optimal restraint practices for children with additional needs, whether these
are physical, medical, or behavioural. Case-by-case assessment of these children is
recommended. The Australian Standard covering child restraint practices for children with
additional medical, physical or behavioural needs, AS/NZS 4370, is available to guide
practices for children with additional needs.
 The use of child restraints while not in motor vehicles, such as in travel stroller systems, for
sleeping, or transporting a child outside the vehicle.
 Travel on other motorized vehicles, including motorcycles (which is illegal for children
under 8 years of age in most states), planes, quad bikes and other non-standard forms of
transportation.
 Advice on implementing these best practice guidelines, including the challenges of remote
communities where optimal resources for transportation and child restraints may not be
available.
5
What are the different types of child restraints?
These are the most common types of restraints that are available for children to use in cars.
Rearward Facing Child Restraint1
A restraint for children from birth, with a built-in harness, where the child faces
the rear of the car.
Type A in the Australian Standard
Also known as: Baby capsule, infant restraint, baby carrier.
Forward Facing Child Restraint2
A child restraint with a built-in harness where the child faces the front of the car.
Type B in the Australian Standard
Also known as: Child safety seat, forward-facing restraint.
Booster Seat
A child restraint that boosts the child up and positions the adult lap sash belt properly
over the child’s hips and chest.
Type E, F in the Australian Standard
Also known as: Belt positioning booster, Booster cushion3
Convertible Restraint
A child restraint that combines 2 or more of the above categories.
Forward/Rearward Facing
Combination
Forward facing/Booster
Combination
Lap sash seat belt
A seat belt in the car that has both a part of the belt that goes across the lap and
part that goes over the shoulder.
Also known as: Lap and shoulder belt, 3 point seat belt.
Lap only seat belt
A seatbelt that has no sash or shoulder part and only restrains the hips.
Also known as: 2 point seatbelt.
Notes:
1. Rear facing restraints come in three categories, with Type A1 for children up to 70cm tall (approximately 6-9 months), Type A2
for children up to 80cm tall (approximately 12 months), and a new category Type A4, for children up to approximately 2-3 years
of age.
2. Type B forward facing restraints accommodate most children up to at least 4 years of age, but a newer type of forward-facing
restraint, Type G, may soon become available which can be used up to approximately 8 years of age.
3. Booster cushions are boosters without the back and side wings that protect the child’s head. They are being phased out, except
for those integrated or built into cars.
6
Recommendations for keeping children as safe as possible
These outline the safest practices for children travelling in cars. There are also minimum legal requirements
that must be followed, and these are listed below the best practice recommendations.
General points – for all ages
Recommendation
Why this is important
1. The use of any restraint is preferable to not
using a restraint.
Most injuries happen when part of a child’s body hits
something rigid. Restraints prevent the child from being
thrown out of a car and from hitting rigid parts of the car.
They also distribute crash forces to the strongest parts of
their body.
While different types of restraints are associated with
different levels of protection (depending upon the size of
the child), overall there is strong evidence that a child
wearing an appropriate restraint has a 30-96% lower risk
of serious injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash
than an unrestrained child.
2. Never restrain two or more people in a single When children (and/or adults) share restraints, neither is
properly protected, and they can injure each other in a
restraint
crash.
3. Consider whether the restraint you intend to
purchase will accommodate your child for the
full duration that they are recommended to
use it. This is particularly relevant for booster
seat purchases, as not all booster seats will
accommodate children until they achieve good
adult seatbelt fit.
Some restraints accommodate taller children, and you will
get more use out of them, rather than having to buy
another restraint later on. This is particularly true for
booster seats, as children will grow out of some nonadjustable boosters well before they can safely use an
adult belt, requiring purchase of another booster.
Minimum legal requirement: Every person in the vehicle must have their own seat and their own restraint.
It is against the law to share seat belts, or sit on another person’s lap.
Moving a child from one restraint stage to the next
Recommendation
4. Keep each child in the restraint designed for
their size as long as they will still fit into it.
Don’t be in a hurry to move them into the next
stage restraint.
Why this is important
Restraints are designed to maximally protect children
based on their development and size, with increased
protection offered for the earlier years. When buying a
restraint, parents should look at the one that allows
their child to use it for as long as possible, particularly
when the child is taller than average.
5. When using convertible restraints (which have A child will get better protection in the ‘younger’ mode
two or more modes, e.g. rear facing and if they still fit in that mode.
forward facing, or forward facing and booster
seat) use the mode designed for younger
children for as long as possible.
6. Exhaust all options for restraints in the child’s When a child exceeds the size limits of one particular
‘recommended’ category before transitioning model of restraint, there may be other restraints
available in that category that accommodate that
them to the next category of restraint.
child’s size, which would provide better protection than
progressing to the next category of restraint.
7
From birth
Recommendation
Why this is important
7. From birth, children should use rear facing
child restraints for as long as they fit in them.
- For older restraints which do not have
shoulder height markers, the sign of the
child having outgrown the restraint is when
the child’s shoulders are above the top
shoulder harness slot for rear facing use.
Rear facing restraints are highly effective in preventing
injuries if used correctly, because they fully support the
child’s head and neck in the event of a crash. This is
important as infants have relatively large heads and weak
necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious
injuries if the head and neck are not supported.
-
Rearward facing restraints support the child’s head and
neck in severe frontal crashes better than forward-facing
restraints.
For restraints with shoulder height
markers, the sign of the child having
outgrown the restraint is when the child’s
shoulders are above the upper shoulder
height marker for rearward facing restraint
use.
Other information: Restraints designed for extended rear facing use, up to approximately 2-3 years of age,
are included in the new Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1754 - 2013 edition), and are called ‘Type A4
restraints’. While there is no experience with them yet, these are likely to be an acceptable alternative to a
forward-facing child restraint for children who fit within them.
Minimum legal requirement: Children under 6 months must be restrained in an approved rear-facing
restraint that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s body correctly.
When they outgrow their rear facing child restraint
Recommendation
8. Children, from birth, should use rearward
facing child restraints (RFCR) for as long as they
fit within them.
- For restraints certified to AS/NZS
1754(2004) or earlier which do not have
shoulder height markers, the sign of the
child having outgrown the restraint is when
the child’s shoulders are above the top
shoulder harness strap slot for rearward
facing use.
-
Why this is important
Numerous studies provide evidence that forward facing
restraints, particularly those with top tether straps, as
required in Australia, better protect children than an adult
seat belt during a crash, all the way up to the age of 6 (and
in some studies, older).
Children are best protected if the restraint straps spread the
crash forces over the body, and the built-in harness in
forward-facing restraints can do this better than booster
seats or seat belts. Also, young children’s hip bones are not
developed enough to hold a seat belt down securely in a
booster seat or seat belt.
For restraints certified under AS/NZS
1754(2010) or later, the sign of the child
having outgrown the restraint is when the
child’s shoulders are above the upper
shoulder height marker for rearward facing
restraint use.
Minimum legal requirement: Children from six months until they turn four years of age must be restrained
in either a properly fastened and adjusted approved rear-facing child restraint or properly fastened and
adjusted approved forward facing child restraint with a built-in harness.
8
Children aged 4 years and older
Recommendation
Why this is important
9. Once a child has outgrown their forward facing
child restraint, they should use a booster seat
until they are too tall for the booster or can
achieve good seatbelt fit as assessed by the '5
step test' (approximately 145-150cm or up to
approximately 12 years of age).
In a crash, booster seats reduce the risk of serious injuries to
children too small for adult seat belts, by positioning the
belt where it is safest - over the bony areas of the shoulder
and pelvis rather than the neck or abdomen. Poor lap belt fit
increases the risk of abdominal and head injuries. Poor
shoulder belt fit increases the risk of neck injuries.
10. High back booster seats are preferable to low Booster seats with high backs and side wings offer greater
protection for the child’s head in a side impact crash, and
back booster cushions.
keep the seat belt in the correct position, even if a child falls
asleep.
11. Booster seats should be used with lap-sash Lap-only belts (and lap-sash belts if the shoulder part of a
seat belts, and the belt must not be worn lap-sash belt is not used properly) allow the upper body to
be thrown forward in a crash. The shoulder part of the belt
under the arm or behind the back.
restrains the chest, and spreads the crash forces over a
larger body area reducing injuries to the abdomen, head
and spine.
12. The belt path specified by the manufacturer
should be followed exactly, and any features
designed to position the lap or shoulder belt
(e.g. armrests, clips, guides) should always be
used.
The way the belt is routed in a booster seat, and the belt
guides (both for the sash belt and the lap belt) are designed
to hold the seat belt in the safest position to minimize injury
in a crash. Putting the belt in a different location or not
using the belt guides means the seat belt cannot do its job
properly and can increase the risk of injury.
13. Children should continue to use a booster seat
as long as possible, until they can fit properly
into an adult seat belt. A good adult seat belt
fit is generally not achieved before children are
approximately 145-150cm tall, or 11-12 years
of age.
When a child’s legs are too short for the seat base, they
slouch down in the seat, the lap belt rides up over their
abdomen and can sit across their neck. For children who still
fit in a booster seat, risk of serious injury can be increased
up to 3.5 times if they don’t use the booster seat because
the adult belt doesn’t fit properly.
A child gets good seat belt fit if the answer to all the
questions in the box below (the “5 step test”) is yes.
Different models of booster seat accommodate children up
to different sizes, and some can fit children up until they can
get good seat belt fit. Parents and carers should look for
booster seats that will fit their child for as long as possible,
especially if their child is tall for their age.
Assessing whether a child is ready to use an adult seat belt: The “5-step test” can be used to determine
whether a child is big enough to obtain optimal protection from adult seat belt (see the box below).
The “5-step test” to assess if a child is ready to move from a booster to an adult seat belt
(1) Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat back?
(2) Do the child's knees bend comfortably in front of the front edge of the vehicle seat?
(3) Does the sash (shoulder) belt sit across the middle of the shoulder, not on the neck or
out near the arm?
(4) Is the lap belt sitting low across the hip bones touching the thighs?
(5) Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
5 =yes

or
or
or

or
or
Less than 5 =no
9
Other information: Restraints designed for extended forward facing use with a built-in 6 point harness for
use up to approximately 8 years of age are included in the new Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754 (2013).
While there is no experience with these restraints yet, they are likely to be an acceptable alternative to the
use of a booster seat for children who fit within them.
Booster seats that are integrated into the vehicle (typically these fold down from the rear seat) are a legally
acceptable alternative to an add-on booster seat, but little is known about their safety compared to an addon booster seat.
Minimum legal requirement: Children aged between 4 and 7 years must be restrained in an approved
forward facing restraint or booster seat that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s
body correctly.
Older children in an adult seat belts
Recommendation
Why this is important
14. Children in seatbelts should use lap-sash Lap-only belts (and lap-sash belts if the shoulder part of a
seatbelts rather than lap-only seatbelts lap-sash belt is not used properly) allow the upper body to
be thrown forward in a crash. The shoulder part of the belt
whenever possible.
restrains the chest, and spreads the crash force over a
larger body area reducing injuries to the abdomen, head
and spine.
15. Where a seating position with a lap only belt
might be used regularly, retrofitting of a lapsash seat is recommended if this meets local
engineering requirements.
Retrofitting a lap-sash seatbelt to a lap-only seat position
is the best solution, as it offers all people who sit in this
position the protection of a lap-sash seat belt, and this is
possible for many vehicles, albeit at a significant cost.
Minimum legal requirement: Children aged 7 years and older must be restrained in a properly worn seat
belt, or booster seat that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s body correctly.
Choosing the safest seating position
Recommendation
16. Children 12 years and under should sit in the
rear seat (if there is one).
Why this is important
Injury risk to children aged 12 and under is nearly double
in the front seat compared to the back seat, irrespective
of restraint type.
17. When choosing where to place a child using a
child restraint or booster in the rear seat, the
safest choice of seating position will have as
many of the following as possible:
Choosing the safest seat position in a motor vehicle for a
child is not straightforward, particularly when there is
more than one child and all their needs must weighed up
to make it as easy as possible for all children to be
appropriately and correctly restrained on every trip.
a. The anchorage points needed for the child
restraint (top tether and lower ISOFIX
anchorage points if relevant) are available.
Rearward facing and forward facing restraints (and some
booster seats) need to be installed with a top tether, so
the location of these needs to be considered when
choosing the seat position for these restraints.
The location of lower ISOFIX anchorages in the car needs
to be considered when installing a restraint by attaching
to them.
b. The top tether strap (if required) cannot
fall into a gap between seat back sections
such as if there is a split-folding seat, or off
The top tether strap needs to able to securely stop the
restraint from moving forward in a crash, so if the strap
can fall in a gap or off the side of a seat back, it cannot do
its job properly.
10
Recommendation
the side of a single seat.
Why this is important
c. For children in seatbelts or booster seats, In case of an emergency, it’s important to be able to
quickly release a seat belt. It’s also easier to buckle the
the seatbelt buckle is readily accessible.
child correctly if the seat belt buckle is accessible.
d. If lap-sash belts are not available in all
seating positions, lap-sash belts should be
prioritised for the children in booster seats
or seat belts alone
For seatbelt and booster users, lap-sash belts are safer
than lap-only belts, while forward facing and rearward
facing child restraints can be safely installed with lap only
belts if there is a suitable top tether anchorage.
e. There are no potential interactions with
other child restraints installed, such as a
top tether strap from a child seated in
front, or space required for other
restraints.
Children can be injured by hitting another child’s restraint
or part of another restraint, so try to arrange children so
that one child’s restraint does not impinge on another’s
space. For example, do not seat a child underneath an
overhead tether strap from a restraint in the seat in front,
and avoid large side wings overlapping a seat belted
child’s space.
f.
Children should preferably be seated in To reduce the risk of either the carer or the child being hit
positions that allow entry and exit from by a passing vehicle, avoid the road-side seating positions
the vehicle from the kerb side.
if possible, and encourage older children to enter and exit
on the kerb side.
g. If a booster cushion is used, the centre Booster cushions have no side impact protection, and the
seat is preferred if a lap-sash seatbelt is centre seat is further away from where the car might be
hit in the side.
available in that position.
h. The child can be seen by the parent in the While not always possible, particularly for rearward facing
restraints, if the driver does not have to turn around to see
front seat.
the child then his or her eyes are not diverted from the
road, reducing the chance of a crash.
18. When choosing the seat position of a child
using an adult seat belt in the rear seat, as
many of the following points as possible should
be followed:
a. Use a lap-sash seat belt in preference to a
lap-only belt
While being in the centre seat reduces the risk of injury in
a side-impact collision, this benefit disappears if there is
no lap-sash belt in the centre position. On balance, the
presence of a lap-sash belt is more important than the
position in the rear seat.
b. Access to the seat buckle should be easy, if Clear access to the seat belt buckle helps to make it easy
other children using child restraints are in for the child to correctly buckle the belt. If there are other
child restraints in the car, they can make this difficult, and
the rear seat
the positions of restraints may be able to be relocated to
minimise the difficulty.
c. The child should achieve a good seat belt fit Seat belt fit may vary in different seating positions due to
(see “5 step test”) in their chosen seat the seat shape and seat belt anchorage locations for
middle and outboard seats.
position.
11
When an airbag is present
Recommendation
Why this is important
19. Rearward facing child restraints should not be Airbags inflate explosively fast in crashes, to protect adult
used in the front seat when a front passenger occupants, and in some cases this has caused fatal head
and neck injuries to infants in rear facing child restraints,
seat airbag is present.
whose head is immediately in line with the airbag as it
deploys.
20. Forward facing child restraints and booster
seats are not recommended in the front seat –
especially where an active front passenger
airbag is installed.
Airbags can also increase the risk of injury to children in
other restraints, as they are designed for adults. Because
most Australian cars (other than those with no rear seat)
don’t have top tether anchorages in front seats, child
restraints usually must be installed in the rear seat.
21. It is not recommended that children 12 years
of age and under sit in the front seat of
vehicles - especially where there is a front
passenger airbag.
Children 12 years and under in the front seat are at
greater risk of injury than adults due to air-bag
deployment and, as stated earlier, are at lower risk of
serious injury and death in the rear seat than in the front
seat with a passenger airbag. Hence the rear seat is the
safer option, particularly when there is a front seat
passenger airbag.
22. If it is unavoidable for a child to sit in the front Pushing the seat back as far as possible maximises the
seat with a passenger airbag, the seat should distance between the child and the airbag – reducing the
interaction between the child and the airbag.
be pushed back as far as possible.
23. Children should sit upright and should not rest
any part of their body on or near where an
airbag will inflate.
a. Older children in the front seat, should not
rest their feet on the dashboard where the
passenger airbag comes out.
Airbags inflate explosively fast in crashes, so it is safer for
children to not have any body parts directly in their path.
In recent years side airbags, including torso airbags and
curtain airbags, have become more common. Curtain
airbags are likely to provide protection for the heads of
children and adults and there are no known dangers from
these airbags provided they are not resting their body in
the path of the airbag when it is triggered.
b. For curtain airbags that come out of the
roof rail above the side window of a
vehicle, children should not rest any part of
their body (particularly the head) on the
Vehicle manufacturers provide guidance on airbag safety
window or sill.
in the user manuals.
c. For torso airbags that deploy from the side
of the seat or the door panel in side
crashes, children should not rest any part
of their body (particularly the head) on the
door.
12
Safe installation and safe use of child restraints
Recommendation
Why this is important
24. All child restraints and booster seats must be
installed and the child strapped in correctly,
according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Specifically:
The risk of life threatening injuries has been shown to be
4-6 times greater with incorrect installation or when the
child is incorrectly strapped into the restraint. While some
errors are more serious than others, a combination of
even minor errors can increase the risk of injury
significantly.
a. Always use a top tether strap for all rear
facing child restraints and forward facing
Not using the tether strap, having the seatbelt or lower
child restraints and booster seats that are anchorage attachments unfastened, or having a loose
equipped with them.
tether or harness in a child restraint allows the child to
move much further during a crash, or even come out of
b. Always use the correct belt path for the the restraint entirely.
restraint (following the colour coding
This means that they are much more likely to strike
available for newer restraints)
something rigid and be seriously injured.
c. Be sure there is no slack or looseness in
any of the belts anchoring the restraint to
the car and avoid twists when possible.
d. Check the seat belt buckle hasn’t been
unbuckled accidentally before every trip.
e. Make sure the built-in harness straps in
rearward and forward facing child
restraints are done up firmly so that any
slack or looseness is removed. Avoid
twists if possible.
f.
Excess webbing from restraint tether straps
should be secured and stored where it
cannot fall out a car door or be reached by
a child.
Long tether straps can become entangled in the car’s
wheel if they dangle out the door, jerking the restraint to
the door and potentially causing injury. A child could also
wrap the strap around their neck.
g. In boosters, always use and supplied
seatbelt guides or clips, including any
designed to position the sash belt and/or
the lap belt.
These are needed to keep the belt in the safest place on
your child’s body so that they done have the belt across
the soft abdomen or the neck which can cause serious
injury in a crash
25. For rearward and forward facing restraints, use
the shoulder harness slot nearest to the child’s
shoulders (but not below them for rearward
facing restraints, and not more than 2.5cm
below for forward facing restraints). The
harness slot used needs to be adjusted as the
child grows.
Having the harness in a slot that is too low can allow the
shoulders to come out of the harness in a crash and the
child can be thrown forward and sustain serious head
injuries. Having the straps too low can also apply high
compressive forces on a child’s spine.
26. When using lap-sash seatbelts (with or without Placing the sash belt under the arm provides no restraint
a booster seat), the sash belt should be for the upper body, similar to a lap-only belt, and this can
positioned over the middle of the shoulder, cause head, abdominal and spinal injuries.
and not be worn under the arm or behind the
back.
27. Carers transporting children should regularly The use of an accredited restraint fitting station has been
check the restraint installation and fit of the shown to halve incorrect use of restraints. If formally
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child in the restraint themselves. Regular use accredited services are not available where you live,
of restraint fitting services to correctly install studies show other types of hands-on restraint fitting
and demonstrate correct use is recommended. advice reduces incorrect use. More regular restraint
inspections reduce the chance of using a restraint
incorrectly. When changing a convertible restraint from
one mode to another, a restraint fitter can help ensure it
is converted correctly.
28. When buying a restraint, carers should test the Not all restraints fit well in all vehicles, due to the location
fit of the restraint in their vehicle before of the seat belt and the shape of the vehicle seat. Also,
some vehicles have shorter seat belts and may not
purchase.
accommodate some larger restraints. To ensure a tight
installation, first try the restraint in your car.
29. Unoccupied child restraints should be secured An unsecured restraint may become a projectile in a crash
– and potentially cause a serious injury to occupants of
to the vehicle.
the vehicle. Since forward and rearward facing restraints
and some booster seats are installed with a top tether
which secure them to the car, booster seats without
tethers and booster cushions are the biggest concern.
Other information: When restraints that can be installed with dedicated child restraint lower anchorages
(ISOFIX anchorages) become available, they should be used as instructed by the restraint manufacturer in
seating positions recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. These restraints can also be installed with a
seat belt and top tether if the car does not have ISOFIX lower anchorages.
Safe restraint use in less typical situations
Rental cars and taxis
Recommendation
Why this is important
30. For optimal safety, children should use the
recommended restraint for their size when
travelling in taxis and rental cars.
The safety issues when travelling in any vehicle are the
same, irrespective of whether the vehicle is a taxi, rental
car, or a private vehicle, so the safest option is to follow
the best practice recommendations, even if the laws may
not require it.
While the normal laws apply in rental cars, in taxis, the
taxi driver may not be required to check that your child is
safely restrained.
Minimum legal requirement: In all states and territories, drivers of rental cars have the same requirements
for compliance with child restraint laws as other cars. However, different laws apply to different states and
territories regarding child restraint requirements in taxis. The table below provides a summary of the
minimal legal requirements in each state and territory.
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The taxi driver must ensure that:
Children under 12 months must use a child
restraint
Age of children who are not allowed to sit in
the front seat
Children 4 years or older but under 7 years
may only sit in the front row if all of the other
seats in the row(s) behind the front row are
occupied by passengers who are also under 7
years of age
All child passengers must be in their own
properly adjusted and fastened seatbelt if no
appropriate child restraint is available, if they
are aged:
Suitable child restraint tether anchorage must
be available
If an appropriate child restraint is available it
must be used
NSW
Vic
QLD
SA
Under 1
year
Under 7
years
1-7
years
Tas
WA
ACT
under 7
years
under 7
years


1-16
years
7-16
years
7-16
years



NT

Under 4
years


1-16
years
1-16
years
7-16
years






1-7
years
7-16
years
Public Transport
Recommendation
Why this is important
31. On urban public buses, children should be The seat in front of where one sits can provide some
seated in their own seating position when restraint, and can reduce the risk of being sandwiched
between a seat and another occupant.
possible.
32. On long distance coaches, where child restraint
anchorages and seat belts are fitted, children
should use their size-appropriate restraint,
correctly installed. If these seats are not
available, children over 1 year of age should
use a lap-sash seat belt.
As noted in the first recommendation any restraint is safer
than no restraint. For this reason if a restraint option is
available, then it should be used. Newer long distance
coaches are required to have some places for child
restraints.
33. Children using community transport buses Smaller community transport buses have seats with child
should use an age-appropriate child restraint, restraint anchorages and using the most appropriate child
restraint in one of these is the safest option. Where this is
where possible.
not possible, or children are tall enough to get good seat
belt fit, they should use a seat belt.
Minimum legal requirement: In all states and territories, drivers of public transport buses and coaches are
not required to ensure that children are restrained according to the child restraint laws. Community
transport buses and passenger vans with 12 or fewer seats are required to follow the child restraint laws.
Troop carriers, vans and utes/utility vehicles
Recommendation
Why this is important
34. Child restraints are not recommended to be
used in side-facing seats in “troop carriers” and
similar vehicles unless no forward-facing
seating positions are available.
While little research has been done in this area, restraint
instruction manuals recommend against the use of child
restraints in side-facing seating positions. Often there are
no anchorage points for a child restraint, and restraints
are design to be used facing the front of the car. So, the
need for the child to travel in a seating position that faces
the side or rear or the car should be considered carefully.
In addition, local regulations may consider installation of
a restraint in any seating position other than one that
faces the front of the car not to be a properly fitted
approved child restraint, and thus illegal.
35. Children should not travel in vehicles that do
not have appropriate forward facing vehicle
seats upon which the appropriate child
restraint can be properly installed.
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36. Children should never travel unrestrained in
vans, non-passenger parts of utility vehicles or
trucks or similar.
Restraints prevent the child from being thrown out of a
car and from hitting rigid parts of the car. They also
distribute crash forces to the strongest parts of their body.
A child wearing an approved restraint has a 30-96% lower
risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash than
an unrestrained child.
Additional seats
These are extra seats installed after manufacture in the cargo part of the vehicle (also known as “Dickie
seats”).
Recommendation
Why this is important
37. Additional seats should only be used when a Seats designed as part the vehicle and their performance
second row (or manufacturer installed) seat is verified in crash tests are likely to offer the best protection.
not available.
38. Follow the additional seat manufacturer’s
recommendations on the suitability of the seat
for use of child restraints.
Additional seats vary a lot in design, and the size of the
child they are suitable for. A seat should only be used by a
child in the size and weight range that it is designed for.
Most additional seats are not suitable for children using
child restraints (including booster seats). If you are in any
doubt, check with your state road authority on the
suitability of a particular additional seat.
39. The ‘5 step test’ to determine whether a child
is tall enough to sit in an additional seat
without a booster seat.
As they are typically smaller than seats that come built
into a car, some children may get good seat belt fit in
these seats earlier than in the regular car seating position.
Minimum legal requirement: If a child is between 4 and 7 years of age, and they are in a seat that is
installed in the cargo part of the vehicle (as is the case with Additional or “Dickie” seats) and only a lap belt
is available, then a child safety harness must be worn in conjunction with the lap belt.
Older restraints
Recommendation
Why this is important
40. Restraints older than 10 years should not be
used.
Age, wear and tear can reduce the strength of the harness
webbing in child restraints, which are essential to holding
the child securely during a crash. Damage to the restraint
structure itself indicates a restraint should not be used.
The plastic used in child restraints can degrade over time,
and after 10 years of age, its strength cannot be
guaranteed.
41. Restraints that have been previously used
should be inspected for wear and degradation
before use. Damaged restraints should not be
used, and should be disposed of in a way that
ensures they cannot be re-used.
42. Restraints that have been involved in a
moderate to severe crash should not be reused, and should be disposed of in a way that
ensures they cannot be re-used.
This includes any crash where the car had to be towed
away, or any person was seriously injured. To ensure an
old or damaged restraint is not re-used, they should be
destroyed and not disposed of in a way that could allow
the restraint to be re-used.
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Child safety harnesses (H- harnesses)
Recommendation
Why this is important
43. Child safety harnesses (H-harnesses) are not
recommended. They should only be considered
when a child has no other option than to sit in
a seating position with a lap-only belt, and
should only be used in conjunction with a
booster seat that is specifically designed to
make sure the harness cannot be pulled up
when the child moves forward in a crash.
Child safety harnesses allow the lap part of the belt to
ride up into a child’s abdomen and cause serious injury,
and research shows they are not as safe as a lap-sash
seatbelt. Furthermore they are often used incorrectly
which further magnifies the risk of injury. They should
only be considered as a last resort if the child cannot use
a lap-sash seatbelt, and then only with specific booster
seats that are designed to make sure the harness cannot
slip up into the abdomen when the child moves forward
in a crash.
See above for considerations in additional seats (those
installed in the cargo section of a vehicle).
Child restraint accessories
Recommendation
Why this is important
44. Child restraint accessories that are not either
supplied with a restraint, recommended by the
manufacturer, or certified for use with a
specific restraint under AS/NZS 8005 are not
recommended. This includes:
a. Seatbelt positioners - a booster seat is safer
If they move or are dislodged, accessories can introduce
slack or looseness into the straps that secure the restraint
to the vehicle or the child to the restraint. This increases
the forces on the child’s body in a crash and therefore
increases the risk of injury.
b. Buckle covers and other devices to stop a
child from escaping from a restraint.
Buckle covers can prevent a child from being removed
from a car in an emergency. Also, children very quickly
learn how to get around most of these devices. It’s better
to teach your child not to do this.
c. Add-on chest clips designed to prevent the
child from removing his/her arms from the
harness that are not supplied with the
restraint or certified under AS/NZ 8005.
Chest clips can make it more difficult to remove a child
from a car in an emergency. Also, children very quickly
learn how to get around these devices. It’s better to
teach your child not to take their arms out of the
harness.
d. Padding, pillows, cushions and blankets or
wraps that surround the head or neck, are
positioned behind the head, or within the
harness of a restraint.
Objects such as blankets, wraps and padding inside the
harness of the child restraint make the harness too loose
and the child can come out of the restraint in a crash.
Extra padding behind the head can push the head
forward, and expose it to injury in a side impact. Anything
that is near the neck can pose a strangulation risk or
restrict breathing.
e. Belt tensioners and other fitting accessories
that actively tighten the seatbelt.
Restraints are designed to work properly with the
seatbelts that exist in your car, and devices that can
over-tighten the seatbelt could damage the restraint.
Locking clips and gated buckles, while not usually
necessary, are OK to use, if needed for firm installation.
f.
Seat belt extenders which position the
buckle over, rather than beside, the
Poorly fitting or poorly positioned belts over the body can
apply excessive force to vulnerable regions of the body,
such as the soft abdominal organs and the neck,
increasing the risk of serious injury. Belt positioners often
pull the lap belt up into the abdomen, and increase
rather than reduce the risk of injury. A booster seat is a
much safer option.
Seatbelt buckles should not be over the child’s body
where they can cause injury. Seatbelt extenders can also
17
Recommendation
child or introduce slack into the belt
Why this is important
encourage the seat belt to be slack, and it can be difficult
to see if the buckle is done up where the extender buckles
into the car.
g. Rigid toys or entertainment accessories Anything that the child can hit during a crash, including
which can be contacted by a child or rigid play toys mounted in front of the child, can cause
injury in a crash. Any rigid object that can come loose in a
can fly off and hit other car occupants
crash can become a projectile which can cause serious
injury to occupants of the car.
h. Sun shades or insect nets which cover the
child and restraint.
Sunshades or insect nets over the top of a restraint could
reduce airflow to a child, reduce visibility of the child, and
make it more difficult to remove a child in an emergency.
Window-mounted sun-shades are available as an
alternative.
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For further information
Visit www.kidsafe.com.au/crguidelines for more information or contact the
Kidsafe (Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia) office in your State or Territory:
Kidsafe ACT
Kidsafe NSW
Building 2, Pearce Centre
Collett Place
Pearce ACT 2607
Telephone: (02) 6290 2244, Fax: (02) 6290 2241
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafeact.com.au
Kidsafe Centre
C/- The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Locked Bag 4001,
Westmead NSW 2145
Telephone: (02) 9845 0890, Fax: (02) 9845 0895
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafensw.org
Kidsafe HUNTER
Kidsafe NT
Shop 5 Hilltop Plaza, Pacific Highway Arcade
Charlestown NSW 2290
Tel: (02) 4942 4488, Fax: (02) 4942 4499
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafehunter.com
1/9 Woolner Court
Woolner NT 0820
Tel: (08) 8941 8234, Fax: (08) 8985 1025
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafent.com.au
Kidsafe QLD
Kidsafe SA
Kidsafe House
50 Bramston Terrace
Herston Q 4029
Tel: (07) 3854 1829, Fax: (07) 3252 7900
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafeqld.com.au
Level 1, Gilbert Building (opposite the Playdeck)
Women's & Children's Hospital,
72 King William Rd,
North Adelaide SA 5006
Tel: (08) 8161 6318, Fax: (08) 8161 6162
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafesa.com.au
Kidsafe TAS
Kidsafe VIC
c\o Lenah Valley Primary School
11 Creek Road
Lenah Valley TAS 7018
Tel: 0448 881 425
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafetas.com.au
PO Box 1005
Collingwood Victoria 3066
Tel: (03) 9251 7725, Fax: (03) 9244 6858
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafevic.com.au
Kidsafe WA
Godfrey House
c/- Princess Margaret Hospital
Thomas Street
Subiaco WA 6008
Tel: (08) 9340 8509, Fax: (08) 9340 8041
Email: [email protected]
www.kidsafewa.com.au
This Guide is based on the Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in
Motor Vehicles. Neuroscience Research Australia and Kidsafe Australia, Sydney: 2013
www.neura.edu.au/crs-guidelines
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