By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Thousands of drivers have been fined for failing to properly restrain youngsters in motor vehicles, latest police figures show.
In the past five years almost 3500 drivers have been caught by police for putting young passengers at risk – including 720 motorists who were fined a total $193,899 last year.
These numbers are only the tip of the problem, however, as RAA’s Safety Centre reported an issue with almost nine in 10 child restraints they inspected last year.
RAA community education manager Belinda Maloney said wrongly fitted restraints were a serious safety concern and reminded RAA members they can receive free help choosing and fitting child restraints.
“Children involved in a crash who are not properly restrained are at risk of injury, lifelong disability or death,’’ she said.
“The RAA Safety Centre checked about 4000 restraints in the last year and around 88% of child restraints had some form of misuse, some with multiple problems,’’ she said.
“Using or fitting a restraint incorrectly can compromise the performance of a restraint when in a crash.
“One of the most common problems that we see is poorly fitted harness straps. This may seem minor but, in a crash, can result in the child being ejected from the seat, resulting in significant injuries.’’
Ms Maloney urged drivers to ensure they “have the right child in the right restraint at the right time.’’
She said a common mistake was to take children out of child restraints at too young an age and long before they should be wearing an adult seatbelt.
“In our experience, adult lap-sash seatbelts do not fit children properly until they are at least 145cm tall. That is the height of the average 10-year-old,” she said.
The law requires infants up to six months old to be restrained in an approved rearward-facing infant restraint.
Children between six months and four years must be seated in either an approved rearward or forward-facing restraint; from age four to seven, in an approved forward-facing restraint or booster; and seven and over in a child safety seat or booster seat, or a properly adjusted and fastened seatbelt.
Police figures also highlighted the risk taken by not properly restraining children in a motor vehicle.
They show that 16 children died and 1500 were injured while not wearing seatbelts in the six years since restraint laws were toughened in 2010.