Changes with real re­straint

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE.COM.AU - Mark Hinch­liffe Pic­ture: Mark Cran­itch

NEW child re­straint laws com­ing into ef­fect next week will have par­ents care­fully check­ing their back seats.

How­ever, RACQ tech­ni­cal ser­vices of­fi­cer Steve Spald­ing re­jects claims the new re­quire­ments will cause con­fu­sion.

‘‘We’ve had some in­quiries, but I think the in­for­ma­tion out there in the pub­lic do­main is fairly clear and con­sis­tent,’’ he says.

‘‘For those par­ents that have been us­ing cor­rect re­straints, this will in­volve lit­tle change.

‘‘How­ever, it will af­fect those that haven’t used them prop­erly or fit­ted them prop­erly and our past re­search shows that could be about 45 per cent.’’

From Thurs­day, all states will en­force new Aus­tralian Stan­dards guide­lines for child re­straints that clas­si­fies them by height and age ranges rather than the child’s weight.

It also in­tro­duces new re­quire­ments for a booster seat for chil­dren up to 138cm and calls for re­straints to use mark­ings to in­di­cate the shoul­der height of a child it is in­tended to fit.

The RACQ and other motoring clubs were in­volved in the con­sul­ta­tion process lead­ing to the new child re­straint rules.

Spald­ing says each state pre­vi­ously had dif­fer­ent stan­dards, but will now all come into line.

‘‘There are some slight vari­a­tions in the dol­lar amount of the penalty, but the re­quire­ments are all the same,’’ he says.

‘‘The penalty in Queens­land is three de­merit points and $300, but the de­ter­rent should be the real risk of death or se­ri­ous in­jury to the child in a crash due to not us­ing a cor­rectly fit­ted ap­pro­pri­ate re­straint.’’

Ac­cord­ing to an Aus­tralian Trans­port Coun­cil re­port, 500 chil­dren up to the age of 10 are killed or se­ri­ously in­jured ev­ery year in car ac­ci­dents, with 2300 sus­tain­ing mi­nor in­juries.

‘‘Par­ents should not un­der­es­ti­mate the safety ben­e­fits of a cor­rectly re­strained child in a crash,’’ Spald­ing says.

An on­line sur­vey has re- vealed one in three par­ents is con­fused about the new child re­straint laws.

Fam­i­ly­Car.com.au founder Melissa Pye says they con­ducted the sur­vey in re­sponse to the large num­ber of queries on their web­site.

‘‘Par­ents are clearly con­cerned about the safety of their chil­dren while driv­ing them to school, day care and af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties and are des­per­ate for some clar­ity in this area,’’ she says.

Pye says ar­eas of con­fu­sion in­clude where to place an adult seat­belt and use of re­straints in ve­hi­cles such as taxis and buses.

The RACQ’s Spald­ing says if that par­ents are not clear on any point, they should ob­tain ad­vice from a rep­utable re­straint fit­ter.

‘‘Al­though there are ex­emp­tions with a taxi, the pri­or­ity of the par­ent would be to make the nec­es­sary ar­range­ments when book­ing to en­sure a re­straint is avail­able for use rather than travel without one,’’ he says.

‘‘From an in­jury per­spec­tive, there is no dif­fer­ence in a crash out­come whether the child is un­re­strained in the back of a pri­vate mo­tor ve­hi­cle or a taxi.’’

Ex­pec­tant mum Re­nae Har­ris-Hughes says she isn’t con­fused be­cause she sought pro­fes­sional ad­vice.

‘‘There are a lot of op­tions, so it’s hard to know which seat is best,’’ she says.

‘‘I sug­gest peo­ple do their re­search and make sure they are comfortabl­e with the dif­fer­ences be­tween the seats.’’

Un­der the new rules, chil­dren aged 0-6 months must be se­cured in an ap­proved rear­ward-fac­ing baby cap­sule or in­fant re­straint that is prop­erly fas­tened and ad­justed.

From the ages of six months to four years, they must be se­cured in ei­ther a rear­ward or for­ward-fac­ing child re­straint with built-in harness.

From four to seven years, they must use an ap­proved booster seat with a H-harness or with an adult seat­belt.

Par­ents are ad­vised not to move chil­dren up to the next level un­til they are big enough. Visit: trans­port.qld.gov.au/Home/ Safety/Road/Mo­tor—ve­hi­cle/

Child—re­straints/ www.stan­dards.org.au www.des­ig­nawards.com.au www.aus­tralian­design.org

SEAT­ING CA­PAC­ITY: Mum-to-be Re­nae Har­ris-Hughes with RACQ car seat ex­pert Mark Con­nor at the RACQ’s Spring Hill cen­tre.

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