A near-death experience provided an unforgettable endorsement for child restraints, writes Kate McQuestin
The importance of getting it right with child restraints
It’s vital to make sure it fits the vehicle correctly and that it suits your child’s age and size
MYcar was all packed for the trip with two-year-old Oliver and three-month-old Isabella in the back and my husband Adam in the front seat. We were looking forward to a Saturday morning outdoors.
Less than 500m from our house, my car was T-boned by a vehicle that ignored a stop sign and collected us on its way through.
It was a serious car accident, resulting in my car being written off and requiring assistance from our local fire brigade and the ambulance service.
The thought that instantly came to my mind, as it would for any parent, was: ‘‘ Are the kids OK?’’ Cars can be replaced, but not your family.
I turned around from the driver’s seat to see if my children had been injured. Thankfully the kids were safe and had suffered only minor scratches. The lucky escape from serious injury was the direct result of using a very good car seat— and the fact it had been installed correctly.
If this had not been the case, the accident probably would have ended in tragedy.
Research shows 80 per cent of Australian children are at risk of injury or death as a result of the incorrect use of restraints in cars.
Over the past 12 months, all State and Territory Governments have moved to reduce the number of child injuries and deaths in car accidents by introducing new child restraint laws.
Children across Australia aged up to seven years must now be safely fastened into the right restraint for their age and size.
So what do parents need to do to ensure their children are as safe as possible?
First of all, the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) advises parents must choose a seat that complies with the Australian Standard and is marked accordingly.
Ingrid Just, from the independent consumer group Choice, said parents needed to choose a seat that was not only right for the size of their child, but was also a good fit for the car into which it was being installed.
Parents should not be afraid to try different models of car seats in their car, as many are differently contoured and may not fit as well to your car,’’ Just said.
They shouldn’t just think the more money they spend, the better. They need to make sure it fits the car correctly, meets the requirements of the child’s size, and is durable. Don’t necessarily go for age— look at your child’s size.’’
You should also make sure your children are in the most appropriate restraint for their age, and particularly their size. Move them to the next category when they no longer physically fit.
If your child is too small to move into the next level of restraint, you should keep your child in the lower-level restraint for as long as possible.
For example, a child who has turned four but is too small for a booster seat should remain in a forward-facing child restraint with a built-in
Safety First: Bron, Gabby and Malachy (above) get their seats checked at Kidsafe Queensland. There’s a wide variety of seats to choose from and the most expensive isn’t always the best