Buckle up for booster laws
SAHNTI Tyas Tunggal works up a sweat each time she takes her three kids out on the road.
Hendrix, 5, Sumira, 3 and Alora, four months, still need to squeeze into the back of her up-sized Statesman in car seats compliant with the new child restraint laws that come into effect as of March 1 and this mum wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Manoeuvring them into their seats and doing up the buckles is quite challenging, but each time we hit the road, we’re on a highway and this is the safest way for them to travel,” the Woombah resident said.
“Having Hendrix in a booster means he can see out the window and there’s no risk of him putting the seatbelt behind his neck or sitting on his feet if he was in an adult seat,” she said.
The changes that have already come into effect in other states are being introduced after findings that parents are moving children into adult seatbelts from around five years old and that children up to seven years are at least four times more likely to sustain a head injury in a crash when using an adult seat belt.
Other research has shown that putting kids aged four to seven years in an appropriate booster seat reduces their risk of injury in a crash by almost 60 per cent when compared to sitting in an adult seatbelt without a booster.
Financial strain could come for families who have thrown away the booster, rely on other people to ferry kids around and if, like Sahnti, they have three or even four children under seven there may be no choice but to get a bigger car.
“We had a Toyota Corolla but there was no way we could get three child restraints into it, so we bought a new, second-hand car,” Sahnti said.
Even with the bigger car, Sahnti said she payed extra for the more narrow car seats that allow three of them to fit.
The new laws will see a $253 fine and a loss of three demerit points for non-compliance.
Children younger than six months must be in a rear-facing restraint.
Children six months to four years must be in a rear- or forward-facing restraint
Children four years to under seven years must be in a forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat.
Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
Children from four years to under seven years can only sit in the front row of a vehicle with two or more rows when all other seats are occupied by children younger.