Plunket welcomes today’s announcement by the Associate Minister of Transport that the age limit for the mandatory use of child car restraints is being increased from age 5 to age 7.
Sue Campbell, Plunket’s National Child Safety Advisor, says that car crashes are one of the biggest dangers to New Zealand children.
“We have one of the highest child road fatality rates in the OECD. Around five children are killed or injured every week on this country’s roads. Today’s announcement by the Government is a positive step towards reducing this number”.
Ms Campbell says that these latest changes are a move towards aligning New Zealand legislation with that of other countries. The UK, Canada and many American states, have gone further with their requirements for booster seat use.
“Research shows that a child should remain in a booster seat until around 148cm tall (4’10”). For the majority of children this is somewhere between 9 and 12 years of age – so these latest changes are certainly a step in the right direction.
“Adult seat belts are designed for adults – they don’t fit children properly until they are at least 148cm tall”, she says.
“Without a booster seat, an adult seat belt sits too high on a child. The lap part of the belt rides up over their tummy and the sash part lies across the neck.
“So what we see is the seatbelt being placed behind the child’s back or under their arm, the child sliding down in the seat and the seatbelt riding up against the squishy part of their tummy. In a crash this can result in serious head and spinal cord injuries and horrific injuries to the abdomen including ruptured livers and spleens.
“Booster seats raise children up and position them so that they get the full safety benefit of the adult seat belt.
“The simple truth is that car seats and boosters seats save lives. In New Zealand we’re fortunate to have a range of booster seats to fit children of all ages.
“Plunket and other agencies will continue to promote the use of booster seats well beyond the 7th birthday. These latest changes are a positive step towards keeping older kids safer in vehicles.”
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