New laws restrain children

HUGE changes to the way you legally drive with your children are almost here.

From Monday, March 1, changes to child restraint laws will be in force, bringing the age of a child seated in a restraint from 1 to 7 years of age.

Until now, there were no laws governing the seating of children over the age of one. As of next week, children under six months are required to be seated in a rear-facing restraint and those more than six months but under four years must be secured in a rear or forward facing restraint.

After four years of age, children can not be seated in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.

If you;re found breaching the laws, you could be fined up to $300 and lose three demerit points on your licence.

The changes were announced on November last year by former NSW Premier Nathan Rees in a bid to have our children safer in vehicles.

Studies show parents are generally moving their children into adult seatbelts from around five and a half years of age and research indicates this is too early and increases the potential for injury.

Children need to be appropriately restrained to reduce the chance of serious injury or death if involved in a crash. A child restraint prevents a child from being ejected from the vehicle and distributes the extreme crash forces over the strongest parts of the child’s body.

Placing a child under seven years of age in a normal car seat and using a standard seatbelt is not safe because a normal vehicle seat is too big and a child’s bone structure is not sufficiently developed to keep the seat (safety) belt in the proper place during a crash.

Children up to seven years of age are at least four times as likely to sustain a head injury in a crash when using an adult seat belt.

Other research shows that seating children from age four to under seven years of age 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 seat.

If you need help fitting your restraint, contact the RTA Customer Service Enquiry on 13 22 13 or NRMA Technical Advice on 1300 655 443.

Summary of changes

  • Children younger than six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint.
  • Children aged six months to under four years must be secured in either a rear or forward facing restraint.
  • Children aged four years to under seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
  • Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
  • Children aged four years to under seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.


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