Poor child restraint use shows neglect – LTSA
The lives of one-in-five young children are being put at risk through them not being secured in appropriate child restraints in vehicles, according to the Land Transport Safety Authority’s latest survey on child restraint use.
The Director of Land Transport Safety, David Wright, said it was nothing short of neglect on the part of drivers that of 4100 children surveyed 21 percent were not secured in appropriate child restraints.
“In the past 10 years 120 young children (under the age of five) were killed as passengers in car/van crashes on our roads. Thirty-three would likely have been saved if they had been wearing appropriate and properly fitted child restraints,” Mr Wright said.
Young children have no choice about travelling in a car and buying or wearing restraints so it is up to adult drivers to take responsibility for keeping them safe. Drivers failing to do this face a $150 fine.
“The law on this is clear: all children under the age of five years must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint when travelling in cars and vans. Wearing an adult safety belt alone is not enough,” Mr Wright said.
“Not only is the law clear, but the reasons for it are clear: child restraints save lives.”
The results of the survey showed the overall use of child seats, infant seats, booster seats and child harnesses by children aged 0-4 years was slightly up, at 79 percent, compared with 75 percent in 1999.
The survey of children in vehicles at 60 sites around the country showed results varied from region to region (see attachment). Hawkes Bay had the worst figure with only 67 percent compliance (down from 74 percent in 1999).
Gisborne compliance levels showed the biggest improvement – up from 42 percent in 1999 to 68 percent.
"This particular result is very encouraging but it shows that we still have a long way to go to convince some drivers that they are playing with the lives of their young children when they don’t secure them in appropriate child restraints," said Mr Wright.
“There is some very good work being done by community groups and Police around the country to remind drivers of their responsibility in this regard.
“Our plea to caregivers is that they always safely buckle children in when they are travelling in a car or van – no matter how short the journey.”