Motor Trade Association (MTA) supports Government’s announcement today of a new rule to raise the age limit for the mandatory use of child car restraints to seven years of age.
MTA spokesperson, Ana Zandi, says that this is a positive step in the right direction in helping to reduce the number of young children that are at unnecessary risk of being involved in a car crash.
"Research shows that an adult seatbelt is not enough to protect young children if they have been involved in a serious car crash. Adult seatbelts are designed for adult bodies not for young children who are safer in a child restraint or booster seat until they are 148cm tall."
"We continue to have one of the highest child road fatality rates in the OECD. Research also shows that vehicles are the number one killer of our children, with around one in five child fatalities."
In the 2010 calendar year, 304 children aged five to nine years were either injured or killed in road crashes.
"There is no doubt that properly used child restraints and safety belts significantly reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities in a vehicle crash. This new rule will certainly go a long way towards helping to bring these numbers down and keep our children safe on the roads," says Zandi.
Under current New Zealand law, any child under five years of age must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint. Under the new rule, children up to the age of seven must be in an appropriate child restraint, and those between seven and eight years of age will be required to use a child restraint, if one is available.
As well as having the appropriate child restraints, it’s also important to ensure that they are properly fitted. This means that the car seat is fitted correctly to a vehicle and that the car seat also fits with a child's physical needs.
Parents should ensure that they have their children’s car seats installed and checked by a trained professional – most MTA members can do this at no cost. They will check to make sure the car seat has the right kind of fittings, that it’s actually fitted to the right part of the vehicle, and that fastenings are tightened to the correct torque settings.
"This change will not only bring us in line with other countries such as Australia but it will also go a long way towards reducing the road toll amongst our young children," added Zandi.