Having your child safely belted into a child restraint or booster seat that is suitable for their size and age, and is correctly fitted and adjusted, is paramount for each and every car journey. Research shows that compared with children in dedicated child restraint systems, children in adult seat belts are 3.5 times more likely to sustain a significant injury, particularly to the head.
avoid common mistakes with child restraints
- A child not belted into a restraint is at risk of serious injury in even a minor crash. The forces inside a car when stopping quickly from a speed of 60 km/h is equivalent to that of falling from a 4th floor window. It is not possible to hold onto a child on your lap, no matter how tight you hold them.
- The size and age of your child are key factors in deciding which restraint is right for your child.
- It is important to have your child safely belted into a restraint that is suitable for their size and placed in a rear seat of your vehicle. You should not put a child in the front seat. The centre rear seat is known to be the safest. The law requires that all children under 7 years of age must use an approved, properly fastened and adjusted child restraint or booster seat. Children aged 7 years to 16 years must use either a booster seat or a seat belt.
tips to avoid common mistakes
- Choose the right vehicle – some vehicles are better equipped than others.
- Choose the right restraints – if the restraint is wrong for the child’s size and weight it will not offer them the best protection.
- Correctly install the restraint - if the restraint is not installed correctly, it may move about or even break free in a crash or during hard breaking.
- Safely use the restraint – if the belts are twisted or wrongly adjusted, it may cause injuries during hard braking or in a crash.
- For more information about keeping your child safe during each and every car journey, you can download RACV's Using Restraints: Getting it Right Every Trip fact sheet.
- You may also find useful child restraint information on the VicRoads website.