CLICK clack front n back, it’s a mantra, one that has saved many lives here in Australia.
For kids there is more to it than simply putting on the manufacturer supplied seat belt in a vehicle.
Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe Australia have launched the Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles, which aims to keep children up to 16 as safe as possible when travelling in vehicles.
Despite high levels of child car restraint use in Australia (92-99%) and one of the most stringent child restraint design standards in the world, approximately 40-70 children are killed on Australian roads each year, and thousands more are injured.
Approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Guidelines are based on the best scientific evidence on how to keep children safe when travelling in motor vehicles.
NSW Minister for Transport and Roads, the Hon Andrew Constance MP, said drivers have a duty of care to ensure children are restrained correctly in their cars.
“Please make sure your child is in the proper child restraint and it has been installed correctly, because you never know when it might save their life,” Minister Constance said.
Project leader and Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA, Professor Lynne Bilston, said the revised Guidelines optimise child passenger safety by factoring in new research and transport developments.
“Our recommendations give consideration to newer restraint types, how a child fits in a particular car when deciding if they can use an adult seatbelt, as well as newer modes of transport,” Professor Bilston said.
“For instance, now that rideshares are common, it is recommended children use their own restraint in rideshare vehicles, not just in the family’s own car,” she said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of inaccurate information gets circulated through social media.
“The Guidelines help to dispel these myths and ensure members of the public receive accurate advice on keeping our children safe while travelling,” said Christine Erskine, Kidsafe NSW Executive Officer.
The new recommendations outlined in the Guidelines include: using child restraints or booster seats when travelling in rideshares (e.g. Uber) and rental cars, as well as taxis; strengthened advice to use the ‘5 Step Test’ to decide when to transition from a booster seat to adult seat belt; encouraging children to sit in an upright seating posture so their restraint can work optimally; children aged 4-8 years should use an add-on booster seat in preference to an integrated booster, but children 9 years and older can safely use an integrated booster seat if their car has a side curtain airbag where they are sitting; and parents of low birthweight babies should use an infant car restraint designed for low birthweight babies until they can get good harness fit in a ‘standard’ child car restraint.
Giacomo Arnott, Acting Captain Raymond Terrace Fire & Rescue NSW told News Of THe Area, “The Child Car Seats website, promoted by Transport for NSW, is an important source of information for parents looking to find the safest seats for their children.
“Having your child in a safety seat protects them while in the car.
“There are countless car crashes across the state every week, and having your child restrained can make a huge difference if you’re in an accident.
“Always remember that the cost and effort of purchasing, installing and putting your child into a safety seat could save their life.
“Always make sure that manufacturer’s instructions are followed carefully when fitting car seats, as an improperly fitted car seat could be extremely dangerous,” he said.
By Marian SAMPSON