Restraints and Car Safety for Children

Traveling in cars is a regular part of life for most New Zealanders. Road trips, simply getting from point A to B, or exciting holidays are just some of the reasons we drive. However, in 2019, 353 people died on New Zealand roads. This is a sobering fact and one we should always be aware of, whenever we drive with our families in the car.

Car crashes are naturally not planned, but these accidents can devastate a family. Lives can – and regularly are – saved by wearing seatbelts and it should be ingrained into us to wear our seatbelts correctly. As effective as they are, however, seatbelts are not designed for children and can actually cause harm to a child if used incorrectly.

Safety guidelines prevent injury or fatalities

The chance of injury or fatality happening to a child passenger in your car can be minimised by following a few safety guidelines for child restraints and car seat safety for kids.

There is a specific way to protect children who are being transported in a vehicle; this is in the form of a car seat or child restraint. According to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) under New Zealand law, all children aged seven years or younger must use an approved child restraint that is appropriate for their age and size. International best practice recommends the use of a booster seat or appropriate child restraint until a child is 148cm tall or 11 years old.

Approved child restraints

There are four kinds of approved child restraints for each age of childhood, as advised by the Ministry of Transport.

  • The first type is infant restraints for young babies, which are called baby capsules. These are readily available from most baby stores and they simply click in and out of their base, which is installed in the car.
  • The second type is restraints for older babies, toddlers and preschool children, which are called car seats. Car seats should all come with a manual to show you how to install the seat correctly.
  • The third type is booster seats, specifically for preschool and school-aged children. Booster seats are designed to raise the child up so that the vehicle’s seat belt will fit correctly on the child.
  • The last type is child safety harnesses for preschool and school-aged children, which can be used with or without a booster seat. Harnesses provide more comfort and safety than a single diagonal seat belt. Just like car seats, it is imperative that child safety harnesses are installed correctly.

By understanding car travel safety for children in your care, you’re making the best and wisest decision for you and your child passengers. Responsible driving, as well as looking out for others’ safety before you drive, ensures you can enjoy your travels without worry.

Some of the most exciting and fun times happen in cars while driving to a destination. Ensure your family stays safe by taking the appropriate measures and installing appropriate car seat protection for the ones you love.

Requirements for child restraints

  • Until their 7th birthday – Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint
  • From their 7th to their 8th birthday – Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle (and if not, in any child restraint or safety belt that is available)
  • From 8th birthday to 14 years old – Must use safety belts if available. If not available, they must travel in the back seat.
  • Over 14 years old – Must use safety belts where they are available.