Use Up But Too Many Kids Still At Risk - LTSA
Child restraint use in New Zealand has reached an all-time high but nearly one in five young children remain unprotected and vulnerable when travelling, according to the Land Transport Safety Authority’s latest survey.
Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said while it was encouraging that restraint use has continued to rise, it was still unacceptable that 18 percent of the under five-year-olds surveyed were not secured in appropriate child restraints.
“There are nearly 300,000 children aged under five in this country, and everyone of them deserves to be protected when they're put into a vehicle.
"In the past 10 years we've lost 116 children under the age of five in road crashes. At least 32 of these youngsters would likely be with us today had they been placed in appropriate and properly fitted child restraints. Children have no choice when it comes to travelling by car or wearing restraints, but they are the ones who pay the price when adults make poor choices.
"The law on this is clear: children under the age of five years must be properly secured in an approved child restraint when travelling in cars and vans. Drivers failing to do this face a $150 fine. Wearing an adult safety belt alone is not enough,” Mr Wright said.
The results of the survey showed that overall use of child seats, infant seats, booster seats and child harnesses by children under five was up to 82 percent last year, compared with 79 percent in 2000 and 74 percent in 1997.
The survey of more than 4,500 children in vehicles at 66 sites around the country showed a wide variation in results between different regions. (see attachment).
The highest regional wearing rates were recorded in Otago (97%), Canterbury (94%) and Hawkes Bay (90%). Northland and Manukau City had the lowest wearing rates, both at 69 percent.
Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Otago all registered double digit increases in their wearing rates over the 2000 survey, with Hawkes Bay up by an impressive 23 percent.
"These results are particularly encouraging, and they should serve as examples of what can be achieved," Mr Wright said.
"There is some very good work being done by the likes of Plunket, Police, ACC and other groups to help get as many children as possible into proper restraints. The LTSA alone funds nearly 50 child restraint programmes in communities across New Zealand. The restraints are available, and so is the assistance for those who need it.
"Our plea to all caregivers is that they always buckle children in safely when they are travelling in a car or van – no matter how short the journey.”