Plunket welcomes the passing into law of an increase in the age limit for the mandatory use of child car restraints from age 5 to age 7. This will require children to be in an appropriate child restraint until their 7th birthday.
Sue Campbell, Plunket’s National Child Safety Advisor, says this is good news.
“Car crashes are one of the biggest dangers to New Zealand children. We have one of the highest child road fatality rates in the OECD. Around five children are killed or injured every week on this country’s roads. Today’s law change is a positive step towards reducing this number it means that 5 and 6 year olds will be better protected.
“The simple truth is that car seats and boosters seats save lives.
“Adult seat belts are designed for adults they don’t fit children properly until they are at least 148cm tall (4’10”).
“Without a booster seat, an adult seat belt sits too high on a child. The lap part of the belt rides up over their tummy and the sash part lies across the neck. In a crash this can result in serious head and spinal cord injuries and horrific injuries to the abdomen including ruptured livers and spleens.
“What booster seats do is raise children up and position them so that they get the full safety benefit of the adult seat belt”.
Ms Campbell says that these latest changes are a move towards aligning New Zealand legislation with that of other countries.
“Research shows that a child should remain in a booster seat until around 148cm tall. For the majority of children this is somewhere between 9 and 12 years of age”, she says.
“We would like to see New Zealand law progress even further to see all child passengers up to 11 years of age, or up to 148 cm in height, use an appropriate child restraint at all times. This would bring us in line with other OECD countries. The UK, Canada and many American states have gone further with their requirements for booster seat use.
“In New Zealand we’re fortunate to have an increasing range of booster seats to fit children of all ages.
“Plunket and other agencies will continue to promote the use of booster seats well beyond the 7th birthday but these latest changes are a positive step towards keeping older kids safer in vehicles.”
For more information visit plunket.org.nz or safekids.org.nzno