Children who are moved out of a booster seat too soon are 3.5 times more likely to sustain a significant injury, but confusion about child-restraint laws are putting children at risk on our roads.
The current law determining which seats children should travel in are:
- Birth to 6 months - rearward facing
- 6 months to 4 years - rearward or forward
- 4 years to 7 years - forward or booster
- 7 years to 16 years - booster or seatbelt
The law requires children to be in a suitable restraint (booster seat or seatbelt) between the ages of seven to 16 years of age. However, this doesn’t simply mean that a child should stop using a booster seat when they turn seven.
At age seven, less than 2 per cent of children are tall enough to fit into an adult seatbelt. Best practice suggests that parents can safely transition their children out of a booster seat once they reach 145cm or 12 years old.
As it stands, there is a stipulation in the law that the chosen restraint needs to be ‘suitable’ for children between seven and 16 years of age - but in reality, a seatbelt restraint only becomes ‘suitable’ when the child reaches a certain height.
Due to the ambiguous language, parents often move their children out of booster seats too soon, which puts them at greater risk of head, neck, spinal and abdominal injuries in a crash.
RACV is urging the Federal Government to prioritise the safety of children this election by amending the subjective language of the law. The law needs to be clear, simple to follow and easy to enforce.
RACV believes the government needs to change the law to be clearer and to ensure height, not age is the determining factor in deciding whether a car seat or seatbelt is suitable.
For further information on child restraint safety, you can visit: www.racv.com.au/childrestraints
Authorised by Bryce Prosser, RACV General Manager Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, 485 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000