Child car restraints Rule changes welcome
As a leading advocate amongst New Zealand’s motor industry, MTA supports Government proposals to clarify and improve vehicle restraint rules for children under seven.
“Naturally, we support anything that is effective in helping motorists travel as safely as possible,” MTA’s Hamish Stuart says.
The new Rule requires compulsory child restraints for passengers under seven years old. However, obviously children are different sizes – so having a height requirement is also important, as in many other countries, MTA suggests.
“On a three-point belt, the top strap is designed to go across the passenger’s shoulder and chest. If they sit shorter than this – as many children do – it could catch their neck or face in an accident, and cause significant harm.”
Also, though changing the rules is a welcome step, the real responsibility for motor vehicle safety is ultimately in the hands of the people in control of them. Though the new rules are still being developed and aren’t scheduled to come into effect until this November, motorists driving with young children can still take simple steps now to check seatbelts and car seats are at the highest standards.
“Drivers are the ones who are operating the vehicles – there aren’t enough police to check every single car on the road, on every journey it makes. A bit of common sense and passenger consideration goes a long way.
“Checking all the seatbelts work properly, car seats are secured properly, and that everyone in the car is strapped in the best way possible – these are all small, easy steps to take to make sure you are best prepared for whatever you may face on the roads,” Stuart says.
“As with other safety features like airbags, crumple zones, or safety glass, you don’t want to have to ever be in a situation to use them – but if you have to, they really can be the difference between life and death.
“If you want to check any of this, ask your repairer or inspection centre next time you’re getting your Warrant of Fitness – they’ll be happy to give you advice, or steer you in the right direction.”
This is also something to consider when buying a new or used vehicle, too.
“If you’re buying a car, take a couple of minutes to check the seat belt arrangements when you’re checking everything else. Ask who you’re buying it from, too – and make sure you’re happy with the answers you get,” he says.
This is more than just one single ride; if you and your family drive on the roads of this country, establishing strong car safety rules early on can establish life-long habits.
“Children learn by example – and learning how to be safe in and around motor vehicles starts long before sitting a Driver License test at 16 years old.”
For further information please contact:
Motor Trade Association
DDI: (04) 381 8839
Mobile: 027 297 3993
The New Zealand Transport Agency is carrying out public consultation on rule changes extending mandatory use of child restraints to passengers under seven years of age.
Currently, only those under five require child restraints.
Other changes include:
- extending the current exemption from use of a child restraint or seatbelt where use is impracticable or undesirable for medical reasons to include children under five; and
- removing current exemptions around seatbelt use for children under five riding in goods vehicles.
More details are available on the NZTA website.