Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common transport related injuries for children. On average, 7 children under the age of 13 are killed and 601 are injured as passengers in vehicles on Victorian roads every year.
The different considerations when thinking about road safety
When thinking about road safety there are many areas of interest, however one of the most important things in the reduction of injury on the road for children is the proper installation and use of car seats.
Research shows that children properly restrained are less likely to suffer injury and die in car accidents.
Under Victoria’s Child Restraint Road Rules (effective since November 9, 2009), all children under 7 years of age must legally be seated in a correctly fitted child restraint or booster seat.
Children need different restraints as they grow. The restraint must be the right size for the child, properly adjusted and fastened, and correctly fitted to the vehicle. Choosing the right child restraint for your child can depend on both their age and their size.
In 2013 Australia introduced a new set of laws and guidelines around restraint rules that have been adopted in each state. These new laws were developed by Kidsafe Australia and Neuroscience Research Australia and were approved by the National Health and Medical Council Australia. These guidelines were put in place to improve the safety of children travelling on our roads.
Children under 6 months age must:
- Use a rearward facing restraint that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s body correctly.
- Have an inbuilt harness.
- Be held in place by a seat belt and top tether strap.
- Not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has a back row or rows of seats.
Children 6 months to four years of age must:
- Use either a rearward facing restraint OR a forward facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness, that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s body correctly.
- Not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has a back row or rows of seats.
Children at this age grow at different rates. It is recommended that you only transition your child to a forward facing restraint when they have outgrown facing rearwards. It is indicated that having your child in a rearward position is safest.
Children 4 to 7 years of age must:
- Use either a forward facing child restraint with inbuilt harness OR a booster seat with a properly fasted and adjusted seat belt.
- Not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has a back row or rows of seats unless all the other back seats are occupied by children who are also under 7 years of age.
Only move your child out of a booster seat when they have outgrown their forward facing child restraint.
Children over 7 years of age must:
- Use either a booster seat with a properly fastened and adjusted adult seat belt OR an adult seat with an adult seat belt.
A child should continue using a booster seat until they have outgrown it. An adult lap-slash belt is designed for people with a minimum height of 145cm. The average child will reach this height between 10-12 years of age.
National Guidelines for Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles.
The National Guidelines provided by Neuroscience Research Australia and Kidsafe provide the best practice recommendations based on evidence based research. These are essential recommendations that compliment your state laws.
Some safety considerations to think about include;
- Seat belts should never be used with the sash belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back.
- When planning any journey with children, use a motor vehicle which allows each child to be in the appropriate restraint for their size.
- Children under 12 years of age are safer in the rear seats of the vehicle. If the car has two or more rows of seats, children under four MUST NOT travel in the front seat. If all rear seats are being used by children, then children under 7 years, may travel in the front seat, provided they use a booster seat. In this situation you will need to use a booster seat that is manufactured without a tether strap. If your car does not have a rear row for example, a ute) children are able to travel in the front row. However, a rearward facing child restraint cannot be used in the front seat where there is a passenger airbag.
- Regularly check the child restraints are correctly installed and that the restraint is adjusted properly for the child’s size according to the restraint user’s manual.
When choosing a car seat it is important to ensure that child restraints and booster seats comply with Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754 for child restraints and that they are fitted following manufacturers instructions.
It is recommended to use a child restraint fitting service that will assist you with the process of choosing the right car seat, checking and fitting restraints.
Car Seat Recommendations
When purchasing your car seat make sure that it meets the requirements of Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754. Car seats that meet these requirements will also display an Australian Standards Sticker.
Children of different sizes and ages require different types of restraints.
Rearward Facing Child Restraint:
For children from birth, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness, where the child faces the rear of the car.
TYPE A in the Australian Standard
Forward Facing Child Restraint:
For children who have outgrown their rear facing restraint up until at least 4 years of age, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness where the child faces the front of the care.
TYPE B in the Australian Standard.
N.B: A new forward facing restraint with an inbuilt harness, Type G, is now available and can be used up to approximately 8 years of age.
For children who have outgrown their forward facing restraint up to at least 8-10 years of age, to position the lap and sash belts safely. Use of an add-on harness is not recommended.
TYPE E, F in the Australian Standard.
Lap Sash Seat Belt:
A seat belt that has one part that goes across the lap and another that goes over the shoulder. Use when a child is big enough and meets all parts of the "5 step test". Only use a "lap only belt" when there is no lap sash belt available.
A child restraint that can be converted. These include rearward/forward facing convertible restraints and forward facing/booster convertible.
This information has been provided by www.kidsafe.com.au. For more information and visuals please visit their website.
To find out more about Australian/NewZealand Standards please visit www.productsafety.gov.au.
It is very important to ensure that your child has a well fitted child restraint and to follow the relevant road rules. However it is just as important to understand how to stay safe when using the roads and sharing it with vehicles and pedestrians.
Mobile phones and Driving
"Using your phone when driving makes you 400 times more likely to have an accident".
It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving. It is recommended that you place your phone in a place where it is out of reach. The use of mobile phones when driving is obviously very dangerous.
When you enter your car please place your phone in a Safe Spot where it is out of reach so you can completely concentrate on the road. A great way to teach your children the same practice for when they eventually start driving!
Safe Spot Organisation
Safe Spot is an Australian Organisation that has developed stickers and magnets to visually display where to keep your mobile phones in cars, where children should stand when getting out of a car, a list of rules when riding in the car and even safe spots around the house! These tools are a fantastic initiative that allow children to get involved in their learning and begin to become responsible in looking after themselves and their family.
To find out more about Safe Spot please visit www.mysafespot.org.
Educating Children About Road Safety
It is important as our children grow up that we continue to send the message of safety on the roads.
The team at Kids and Traffic (the NSW Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program) have collaborated and created some great tools to help educate your child about road safety and have released these songs;
"Click Clack" - A song about wearing a seat belt!
"Crossing the Road" - Learning about being a safe pedestrian!
"Helmet on my Head" - Bike and Scooter safety!
For more songs and educational tools visit www.kidsandtraffic.mq.edu.au
Road Safety At Home
Did you know in Australia that approximately 1 child (often a toddler) is run over in a driveway each week?
Our little explorers are so small that the driver simply does not know the child is there.
SUPERVISE, SEPARATE AND SEE
Supervise: Supervise at all times. Teach them to wave goodbye from a safe place.
Separate: Separate play areas from driveways.
See: See that the driveway is clear by walking around the car first. Do not rely on mirrors or reversing cameras.
Age and Supervision
Children under the age of ten should never be left unsupervised using the roads. After the age of ten you should take the time to determine if your child has the necessary skills to use the road safely.
Things to ask yourself about your child include;
- Do they understand different road signs?
- Do they know where the safest place to cross on the road?
- Do they know their role and responsibilities as a pedestrian?
- Do they understand that as much as they know their rules, that drivers of vehicles may not abide by these and therefore they must check, and double check at all times?
Things for you to teach your child;
- Look and Listen
- No running across the road and to hold hands
- Sidewalks only
- To make eye contact with the driver before crossing the road
- Red, Green and Yellow
- Get out at the kerbside
- No playing zones when using the road
- Be cautious
For more resources on educating your child contact your school, local traffic authority and kids and traffic.
EDUCATION AND FIRST AID
WONDERWOMAN CHILDREN provide the community with Buddy First Aid and Safety Programs for children and Family First Aid for families. It is essential that in addition to understanding how we can make our family safe, that all members know what to do in the case of an emergency.
For more information and to find a class near you for you or your children please contact www.wonderwomanchildren.com
1300 724 902
ROAD SAFETY FREE EVENT - Saturday 25th June 2016
Hire for Baby are proud supporters of our Road Safety Series and together with WONDERWOMAN CHILDREN have created FREE Safety Community event in Melbourne! On the day Hire for Baby will be conducting FREE RESTRAINT CHECKS and discounted fittings. You will also be able to participate in free information sessions running throughout the day!
DATE: 25th June
TIME: 1:00pm - 4:00pm
LOCATION: YMCA, Springers Leisure Centre, KEYSBOROUGH.
This event has been proudly bought to you by Little Rockers Radio, WONDERWOMAN CHILDREN and Hire For Baby.
INFORMATION SESSION SCHEDULE
- 1:30PM: All About Capsules
- 2:00pm: Why Rearward Facing?
- 2:30pm: Isofix explained
- 3:00pm: G-Seats – Harnessed to 8 years
- 3:30pm: Transitioning to a regular seat belt
Bookings are required. Please contact WONDERWOMAN CHILDREN at email@example.com to secure your spot!
** This information has been provided to Little Rockers Radio by WONDERWOMAN Children and is to be used as a guide only. For further information please use the links provided in this article.