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Child Restraints - New Child Restraint Laws in Australia Per Individual States
Latest News

New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
Australian Capital Territory
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Tasmania

New South Wales

On 4 November 2009, former NSW Premier Nathan Rees and Minister for Transport David Campbell announced the introduction of new child restraint laws for children up to seven years of age to come into place as of 1st March 2010.

Summary of changes

From 1 March 2010:

  • Children younger than six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint.
  • Children aged six months to four years must be secured in either a rear or forward facing restraint.
  • Children aged four years to seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
  • Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
  • Children aged four years to under seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.

Choose the right child restraint
A child that is properly secured in an approved child restraint is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than one who is not.

Child restraints can be purchased from retail outlets or hired from some local councils, some maternity hospitals, community groups and from privately run rental companies.

Child restraints available in Australia must meet the Australian /New Zealand Standard 1754:2004 Child restraints for use in motor vehicles. The standard is one of the toughest child restraint standards in the world and child restraints manufactured to this Standard offer good protection in a crash.

A significant number of the restraints have been tested and assessed under the Child Restrain Evaluation Programme (CREP).

Find out more about the results of these tests and the guidelines you should follow when buying a child restraint in the safer child restraints brochure.

Remember

  • Using a restraint correctly greatly increases a child's safety during a crash.
  • By placing a child in a restraint that is designed for a larger/older child increases the risk of serious injury in a crash.
  • In NSW, it is illegal to use a child restraint in the front passenger seat of a vehicle if a passenger airbag is fitted.
  • Ensure the restraint is installed correctly. See a restraint fitter if in any doubt.
  • Always use the top tether strap where required.
  • Teach your child to always keep both arms within the harness system of the child seat or the seat belt of the booster seat.
  • When using a seat belt with a booster, ensure the seat belt is correctly fitted over the child’s shoulder.
  • Move your child into a forward-facing restraint only when they no longer fit into a rearward-facing restraint.
  • Move your child into a booster seat only when they no longer fit into a forward-facing restraint.
  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Installation
Follow all the manufacturer's instructions carefully if you are fitting the restraint yourself. If the instructions have been lost, contact the manufacturer or seek advice from an RTA Authorised Fitting Station. Call 13 22 13 to find your nearest RTA Authorised Fitting Station.

NSW child restraint laws effective 1 March 2010 - FAQs

 

Victoria

Please Note: As of 9 November 2009, child restraint legislation has changed

Effective from the 9 November 2009, children under seven years of age must use a child restraint or booster seat when travelling in a car.

These rules require that:

  • Children aged under 6 months must use an approved, properly fastened and adjusted rearward facing restraint.
  • Children aged between 6 months and under 4 years must use an approved, properly fastened and adjusted rearward facing child restraint OR a forward facing restraint.
  • Children aged between 4 years and under 7 years must use an approved, properly fastened and adjusted forward facing restraint OR an approved booster seat which is properly positioned and fastened.

There are also new laws for where children can sit in vehicles:

  • If a car has two or more rows of seats, than children under 4 years must not travel in the front seat.
  • If all seats, other than the front seats, are being used by children under 7 years, children aged between four and six years (inclusive) may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved restraint or booster that is properly fitted.

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that passengers are properly restrained in a seat belt or approved child restraint. There are penalties for drivers who do not ensure that their passengers are properly restrained. For more information on the rules and penalties related to seatbelts click here.

Approved child restraints and booster seats meet the requirements of the Australian/ New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) 1754. This should be clear on the packaging and the restraint. An example of an Australian Standards approved sticker is shown.

Exemptions to child restraint legislation apply if:

  • a child under one is travelling in a taxi and a suitable restraint is not available, however the child must not travel in the front seat
  • a child over one is travelling in a taxi, and there is no suitable restraint available and the child occupies their own seating position.
  • a child is travelling in a police or emergency vehicle
  • a child has a medical condition or physical disability that makes it impractical to use a child restraint, and the driver has a certificate from a doctor indicating this is the case.

Victoria child restraint laws effective 9 November 2009 - FAQs

 

Queensland

Babies and children

Babies aged 0 to six months must be secured in an approved rearward facing baby capsule or infant restraint that is properly fastened and adjusted.

Babies and children aged between six months and four years of age must be secured in either an approved rearward facing child restraint or an approved forward facing child restraint with built-in harness that is properly fastened and adjusted. It is recommended that a baby remain in an approved infant restraint for as long as possible.

Children who have reached four years of age must be secured in an approved booster seat with a H-harness or a booster seat with a secured adult seatbelt that is properly fastened and adjusted. The child must be secured in this manner up until they turn seven years of age. The rules recognise that some children may be too large or too small for a specific type of child restraint.

  • If your child is too small to move into the next level of restraint, you should keep your child in the lower level restraint for as long as possible (for example, a child who has turned four but is too small for a booster seat should remain in a forward facing child restraint with a built-in harness).
  • If your child is too large to fit into a child restraint specified for your child's age, your child may move into the next level of restraint. A child is too tall for a booster seat when the level of the child's eyes is above the level of the back of the booster seat.

Seating children in the front passenger seat
Whether your child can sit in the front passenger seat will depend on the age of the child and whether there is more than one row of seats in the car.

If the car has one row of seats only (for example, a ute):

  • a child of any age can sit in the front seat if the vehicle has only one row of seats provided they are properly restrained. If the vehicle has a passenger airbag fitted, a rearward facing child restraint should not be used.

Where there are two or more rows of seats:

  • a child under four years of age cannot sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has more than one row of seats, even if the child is three years of age and large enough to sit in a booster seat
  • a child aged between four and seven years of age cannot sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has more than one row of seats, unless all the other seats are occupied by children under seven years of age.

Penalties

The driver's responsibility
The driver is responsible for ensuring that all people travelling in their vehicle are correctly restrained. If they or their passengers are not restrained correctly, they risk being fined A$300 and three demerit points for each unrestrained or incorrectly restrained child in the vehicle.

The only exemptions are:

  • taxis and limousines where no child restraint is supplied
  • on medical grounds where a certificate is provided by a doctor.

If more than one seatbelt offence occurs within a 12-month period, an additional three demerit points will apply. The additional demerit point penalty will apply to driver-related offences for seatbelts.

More information about child restraint rules
Download the following documents for more information about child restraint rules.

 

ACT

New road rules will be introduced in the ACT on 15 March 2010. All States and Territories plan to introduce, or have recently introduced, these changes to the Australian Road Rules.

New Child Restraint Rules
The most significant changes relate to nationally agreed mandatory child restraint rules for children under the age of 7 years. Research has shown that while many parents and carers do choose an appropriate child restraint for their children, many children are using adult seatbelts too early and this has resulted in injuries to children involved in car accidents.

In the ACT, the phase-in period for the new child restraint rules will commence on 15 March 2010 and these rules will become mandatory 12 months later, on 15 March 2011. This will allow adequate time for people to purchase appropriate child restraints and booster seats. After that, failure to comply with the new laws will attract a similar penalty to other seatbelt offences, which includes fines and demerit points.

Under the new rules, the type of child restraint will depend on the age of the child, as follows:

Under 6 months: an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rear facing child restraint.

Between 6 months and under 4 years: an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rear facing OR forward facing child restraint with an in-built harness.

Between 4 years and under 7 years: an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, forward facing child restraint with an in-built harness OR a properly positioned approved booster seat and a seatbelt that is properly fastened and adjusted.

There will also be new laws for where children can sit in vehicles:
If a vehicle has two or more rows of seats, then children under 4 years must not travel in the front seat.

If a vehicle has two or more rows of seats, then children aged between 4 years and under 7 years must not travel in the front seat unless all other seats are being used by children under 7 years. In this situation, a child may travel in the front seat using an approved booster seat and a properly fastened and adjusted seatbelt.

ACT child restraint laws effective 9 November 2009 - FAQs

 

South Australia

At present, the law deals separately with children under one year old and those between one and 16 years.

Passengers under one year old must be restrained in a suitable, approved child restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened.

Passengers aged one year and over, but under 16 years, must occupy a seat fitted with a seat belt or suitable child restraint, if such a seat is available. The seat belt or child restraint must be worn properly adjusted and fastened in all motor vehicles.

Under this rule, a seat is classified as 'available' if it is not occupied by another person under the age of 16 years.

The responsibility for children under 16 years using restraints correctly rests with the driver.

Restrictions on where passengers can sit for vehicles without enough seatbelts
Passengers must not sit in the front row of seats in vehicles with more than one row of seats where seatbelts are not fitted, or there are not enough seatbelts. If the other seats are full, passengers aged 16 years or more can sit in the front row. Passengers aged less than 16 years may only sit in the front row if wearing a seatbelt that is properly adjusted.

Exceptions to wearing seatbelts
Seatbelts do not have to be worn by people if their doctor has written a letter stating that the person doesn't have to wear a seatbelt on the ground of physical disability or any medical ground. The person must have the letter with her or him, or a seatbelt must be worn.

New rules for child restraints…?
Following a decision by the Australian Transport Council, Transport Ministers from around Australia have agreed to amend the Australian Road Rules to introduce a mandatory size-appropriate restraint system for all children travelling in motor vehicles up to the age of seven years.

It is expected that the new laws will come into effect in the second half of 2009.

Penalties
The following table details the penalties for drivers now that they are responsible for ensuring that their adult passengers - aged 16 and over - are properly restrained, in the same way they are currently responsible for passengers under 16.

Passengers are still accountable, with both drivers and passengers aged over 16 fined if they fail to wear a seatbelt.

Offence
Penalty
Driver not wearing a seatbelt
‘On the spot’ fine; and 3 demerit points
Driver penalty for one passenger not wearing a seatbelt
‘On the spot’ fine; and 3 demerit points
Driver penalty for more than one passenger not wearing a seatbelt
‘On the spot’ fine; and 5 demerit points
Passenger not wearing a seatbelt (16 years or older). Both driver and passenger will be fined.
‘On the spot’ fine; and 3 demerit points

 



 

 

 


Publications

Links

South Australia child restraint laws - FAQs

 

Western Australia

In Western Australia, transport related injury is a leading cause of death and serious injury in children aged 0-14 years (Injury Control Program, 1997). Approximately 200 people are killed and 3,000 seriously injured in road crashes each year in Western Australia, with non-use of seat belts still a major contributor. Between 1990 and 1999, 33% of drivers and passengers killed in road crashes in WA were not wearing seat belts (Henstridge et al., 2000). In Western Australia between 1993 and 2003 an average of nine child passengers died each year, 186 were hospitalised and 200 presented at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children with injuries from vehicle crashes.

A CORRECTLY FITTED CHILD CAR RESTRAINT CAN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE THE RISK OF DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY IN ROAD CRASHES.

However the effectiveness of restraints in preventing death and injury can be impaired by the use of restraints that are not appropriate for the size and weight of the child, the use of damaged restraints or the incorrect installation of the restraint in the vehicle. A survey by Kidsafe in Western Australia (1998) found that 62% of child car restraints were fitted incorrectly.

Addressing the Issues
In 1999, the Child Car Restraint Sub-Committee of the Road Safety Council of WA developed a document Child Car Restraints in Western Australia: A Framework for Action. This framework recognised that agencies must work together to:

  • Increase community knowledge of the effectiveness of appropriate child restraints in preventing death and injury;
  • Increase the ability of parents/guardians to choose restraints that are appropriate for the size and weight of their child;
  • Provide avenues to ensure child car restraints are installed correctly; and
  • Increase compliance of parents and children with restraint use laws.

This framework also identified the need to train Type I Fitters of child car restraints and develop a state-wide network of these qualified fitters. Funding from the Road Safety Council has provided resources to develop a Type I Child Car Restraint Fitters Course which is currently being delivered throughout the state.

Current Issues

What is the status of implementation of Australian Road Rules 7th amendment package for child restraints?
The 7th Amendment to the National Road Rules were agreed on nationally in January 2008, however to be effective and enforceable they need to be adopted into State or Territory legislation.
A summary of the proposed changes are:

  • Children up to 6 months must be in rear facing restraint
  • Children up to 4 years must be in a restraint with an internal 5 point harness
  • Children 4 to 7 years must be in booster seat
  • Children under 4 are not permitted in front seat & under 7 are not permitted in front seat unless all rear seats are occupied by children less than 7 years
There will be exemptions for children outside weight / size guidelines for existing restraints.

Western Australia child restraint laws - FAQs

 

Northern Territory

Child Restraints
Read and follow all instructions carefully when installing child restraints. Where possible, install your child restraint in the centre position of your car’s back seat.

Ensure that the top strap and the adult seat belt that keep the child restraint in position are properly adjusted so they don't have any slack. This helps to ensure a very tight fit and minimises subsequent movement in a crash.

Use the minimum number of tether extension straps. Ensure the harness shoulder straps are correctly positioned. When using a rearward-facing infant restraint, the shoulder straps should be located at shoulder height or just above the baby's shoulders. Shoulder straps in forward-facing restraints can be located up to 25mm below the child’s shoulders.

Adjust the harness firmly. A loose harness will not perform well in a crash and can lead to other problems, such as the child freeing his or her arms. There should be no twists in the harness. When using a child harness with a lap belt, tighten the belt first, and then adjust the harness.

Airbags
If your car has airbags, fit all child seats in the rear seat.

Never use child restraints in the front passenger seat.

Which child restraint for what age?

Infants (up to 9kg, about 6 months)

  • Always use an approved child restraint.
  • Keep your child in a rearward-facing child restraint until he or she physically will not fit. Before moving to a forward-facing child seat, your child must be able to sit and easily hold his or her head upright.
  • Do not carry your child in your arms. In a crash you will not be able to hold onto your child. He or she will be thrown around the interior of the car or thrown outside it.

Very young children (9kg up to 18kg, 6 months to approximately 5 years)

  • Always use an approved child seat.
  • Do not be tempted to move your child into a booster seat when a new brother or sister comes along.
  • Nothing else offers the same level of protection in a crash for young children as a child seat.
  • Continue putting your child into the child seat until he or she becomes too big for it.

Young children (up to 26kg, about 6 years)

  • A booster seat may be needed to improve seat belt fit and to let your child see out of the car.
  • Buy a rigid booster seat (with a back), side wings and a sash guide to keep the seat belt in place.
  • Use an adult lap/sash seat belt or a child harness in conjunction with the centre rear lap belt. When using a harness remember to tightly adjust the lap belt first and then the harness, removing the slack. The lap belt should always be tighter than the shoulder harness.
  • Never use a booster seat or cushion with just a lap only seat belt.

For Authorised Inspectors in various locations who can assist with installation of Child Restraints click on this link Authorised Vehicle Inspection Stations on the Motor Vehicle Registry website.

 

TASMANIA

On 30 November 2009 there will be some changes to the road rules about child restraints, with further changes from 30 November 2010

From 30 November 2009 all children under four years of age must wear an approved child restraint that is properly fastened and adjusted when travelling in a car for improved safety. The type of restraint will depend on the age of the child as follows:

  • under the age of six months: to be restrained in an approved rearward facing child restraint (e.g. infant capsule)
  • from six months to less than the age of four: to be restrained in either an approved rearward facing child restraint or an approved forward facing child restraint with inbuilt harness (e.g. child safety seat)

There are also new laws about where children can sit in vehicles.

  • If a car has two or more rows of seats, then children under four years must not travel in the front seat.
  • If all seats, other than the front seats, are being used by children under seven years, children aged between four and six years (inclusive) may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved child restraint or booster seat.

From 30 November 2010, children aged four years to less than the age of seven must be restrained in either an approved forward facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat restrained by a correctly adjusted and fastened seatbelt.

Guide to selecting a child restraint
The following table is a guide to selecting a suitable child restraint.

Age
Indicative weight
Child restraint
0 to 6 months
less than 8 kilograms (kgs)
Rearward facing baby capsule or infant restraint
6 months to 1 year
8 to 12 kgs
Rearward or forward facing infant restraint
6 months to 4 years
8 to 18 kgs
Forward facing child restraint with built-in harness
4 years to 7 years
14 to 26 kgs
Booster seat with H-harness or a booster seat with a secured adult seatbelt



 

Selecting the appropriate restraint is only the first step in protecting your child. No restraint will work properly or prevent injury if it has not been fitted correctly in accordance with the manufacturer's directions.

When choosing a child restraint, the child's age is the primary factor in determining the correct restraint to use for your child. The size and weight of your child may however, have an impact on what type of child restraint is appropriate.

Penalty
The penalty for failing to ensure a child aged under 16 years wears a child restraint or seat belt as required, is 3 demerit points and $350 fine.

DIER also recommends
That you have restraints fitted by an experienced child restraint fitter.

What you have to do
To comply with the new child restraint rules you have to:

  • know which is the correct child restraint(s) to use; and
  • ensure that each child passenger is wearing a properly fitted and fastened approved child restraint suitable for their age every time you drive a car.

Further advice on appropriate child restraints and fitting services is available from organisations such as Kidsafe and RACT or check your telephone or business directory for local providers.

Road safety reasons

  • On average, nearly 38 children under the age of seven are injured or killed as passengers in vehicles on Tasmanian roads each year.
  • Parents are generally moving their children into adult seatbelts from about the age of five and half years - research suggests this is simply too early.
  • Children up to seven years are at least four times more likely to sustain a head injury in a crash when sitting in an adult seatbelt only.
  • Other research shows seating children aged four to seven years old in an appropriate booster seat reduces their risk of injury in a crash by almost 60 per cent, compared to if they were sitting in an adult seatbelt without a booster seat.

Exemptions
Taxi drivers will be exempt from the child restraint requirements for children under 4 years. However, they will continue to be responsible for ensuring a child aged 4 years to less than 16 years wears an available seat belt or child restraint. Parents are encouraged to use their own restraints in taxis where possible. When there is no suitable child restraint available a seatbelt should be worn.

 

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