Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia

 

National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles   

 

                                                      
       

Child Restraint Guidelines - Keeping children as safe as possible while travelling in motor vehicles

The National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles have been developed by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe - The Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. The National Guidelines provide best practice recommendations that have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

NeuRA and Kidsafe
want to see all children as safe as they can be when travelling in cars. Ensuring that parents receive straightforward, consistent advice from all sources on how to keep children safe in cars is an important step in making this happen. 

Below is a summary of the Guidelines as outlined in the Consumer documents. For a full copy of the guidelines click here.

Children of different sizes and ages need different types of restraints:

    Rearward Facing Child Restraint
For children from birth, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness, where the child faces the rear of the car. Type A in the Australian Standard.

NB. Rearward facing restraints come in three types: Type A1 for children up to 70cm tall (approx 6-9 months), Type A2 for children up to 80cm tall (approx 12 months), and a new category Type A4, for children up to 2-3 years of age.
       Forward Facing Child Restraint
For children who have outgrown their rear facing restraint up until at least 4 years of age, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness where the child faces the front of the car. Type B in the Australian Standard.

NB. Forward Facing restraints, Type B, fit most children up to at least 4 years of age. A new forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness, Type G, is now available which can be used up to approximately 8 years of age.            

     Booster Seat
For children who have outgrown their forward facing restraint up to at least 8-10 years of age, to position the lap and sash belts safely. Use of an add-on harness is not recommended. Type E, F in the Australian Standard.

NB. Booster Cushions are boosters without the back and side wings that protect the child's head. They are being phased out, except for those built into cars.                    

     Lap sash seatbelt
A seatbelt that has one part that goes across the lap and another that goes over the shoulder. Use when a child is big enough to meet all parts of the '5 step test'. Only use a 'lap only belt' when there is no lap sash belt available.

Convertible Restraint
A child restraint that combines 2 or more types. These include:

Rearward/forward facing convertible: Can be converted from a rearward facing to a forward facing child restraint.

 

 
Forward facing/booster convertible: Can be converted from a forward facing child restraint to a booster seat.
                              

            


Ten Essential Steps:
For more details on each of the ten essential steps click on the bold text.

                        

 1. The Use of any restraint is preferable to not using a restraint. It is the law that each person in a motor
vehicle has their own restraint.
 2. Infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing restraint as long as they still fit in their rear
facing restraint
.
While the law allows children over 6 months to use either a rear facing restraint or a
forward facing restraint, the rear facing restraint offers better protection as long as the child fits in it.
  3. Once a child is too tall for their rear facing child restraint, they should use a forward-facing child restraint (with built-in 6 point harness) until they are too tall for it. While the law allows children 4 years
and older to use either a forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat, the forward-facing child restraint
offers better protection as long as the child fits in it.
  4. Once a child is too tall for a forward facing child restraint, they should use a booster seat with a
lap-sash seat belt until they are tall enough to fit properly into an adult seat belt
.
While the law allows children 7 years and older to use either a booster seat or a seat belt by itself, a booster seat offers better protection as long as the child fits in it.
 5.  For a child in a booster seat or an adult seatbelt, use a seating position with a lap-sash (lap and shoulder) belt in preference to one with a lap-only belt. 

 6.       
             

           

All child restraints and booster seats must be installed correctly and the child strapped in correctly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions:

a)   Always use a top tether strap for all rearward facing child restraints, forward facing child restraints
      and booster seats that have them.

b)   Always thread the seatbelt through the correct path (following the colour coding available for
      newer restraints).

c)   Ensure there is no slack or looseness in any part of the system. Check the harness straps around 
      the child, the top tether, the seatbelt anchoring the restraint to the vehicle, and the seatbelt used by a
      child in a booster seat.

d)  Check that the seat belt is buckled before each trip.

 7.
Children 12 years of age and under are safest in the rear seat
 8.

 

Seat belts should never be used with the sash belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back, whether they are being used alone or with a booster seat.
 9. When planning any journey with children, use a motor vehicle which allows each child to be in the appropriate restraint for their size.
10.

 

Regularly check that child restraints are correctly installed and that the restraint is adjusted
properly for the child's size according to the restraint users' manual
.
Using a restraint fitting
service will help ensure that everything is used correctly and that your child is as safe as possible.

For further information:

For further information on the NHMRC Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint for Children
Travelling in Motor Vehicles, click on one of the document links below:

  • National Child Car Restraint Guidelines - Detailed Consumer Document (A4 Booklet)
  • Child Car Restraint Guidelines - A Guide for Parents and Carers (DL Brochure)
  •    

    Kidsafe would like to extend their appreciation to TOLL for their donation towards the printing of the DL Child Car Restraint Guidelines brochure. Contact your local Kidsafe office for copies.

    For information on safely restraining children in cars, contact your local Kidsafe state/territory office.
    More details about how these recommendations were developed and the research evidence can be found here