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Car seat risks concern Police and Plunket

Car seat risks concern Police and Plunket

Canterbury Police say they are concerned at the number of children in cars who are at risk of injury because of unsafe or incorrectly installed car seats.

During a two-week campaign this month, Police and Plunket visited pre-schools across Christchurch and checked 275 child car restraints - but found nearly half were not up to standard or were installed incorrectly.

Police and Plunket made a total of 12 visits to six different preschools, along with road safety campaigners from Christchurch City Council.

Senior Constable Grant Neal of Canterbury road policing says the team stopped 300 vehicles which were identified as having children as passengers.

In the 300 vehicles checked there were 275 children under five years of age, who are legally required to be in an approved child restraint.

All but two of the 275 were in a restraint, but Police and Plunket found that 135 of the child seats were not up to standard or were not correctly installed.

"Having a child restraint in the car is great - but if it isn't correctly fitted and used, children are still at risk," says Senior Constable Neal.

"Correct use can literally make the difference between life and death"

The most common faults identified were tether straps not attached to anchor bolts, seatbelts not correctly routed through the car seat and children that had outgrown their current car seat.

Of the 135 restraints identified as having issues, 105 were able to be corrected at the roadside by either Police or a Plunket car seat technician.

The remaining 30 could not be fixed on site. The drivers in these cases were issued with a ticket, but offered compliance - where the driver is allowed a period of time to fix the problem rather than pay a fine or be prosecuted.

Two drivers were issued tickets without compliance for not having their child in a car seat. One driver had the booster seat in the boot of the car and said they forgot to put it in the car for the child.

In the other situation the car seat was in another vehicle and Senior Constable Neal says the driver indicated they couldn't be bothered changing it over just to take the child to pre-school.

"The most shocking case was a van containing seven children under five years of age," he says. "None of the seven children were properly restrained and six of the seven car seats had expired.

"A child restraint has a life of either 7 or 10 years, indicated by an expiry date. The oldest car seat in this van was 28 years old.

"The driver was facing seven tickets of $150 each - but the positive outcome was that the preschool purchased 10 brand new car seats from Plunket that day.

"The driver was given advice by Plunket on how to correctly install the car seats and how to correctly seat the children."

The end of the campaign will be marked with a concert at Linwood Avenue Primary School at 10.00am tomorrow [Thursday 1 August] for the participating pre-schools. The show will feature the Ronald McDonald road safety show, as well as a special appearance from Police dog.

Senior Constable Neal says parents should get their child car seats checked by a child restraint technician - a list of these can be found on the NZTA website, and the checks are free of charge.

"These technicians will check your car seat and how well your child fits in it. This will give parents peace of mind that their precious cargo is the safest it can be."


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