Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia


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



Below is a summary of the Guidelines as outlined in the Consumer documents. For a printable copy of the detailed consumer document click here.

Recommendations for keeping children as safe as possible:

These outline the safest practices for children travelling in cars. There are also minimum legal requirements that must be followed, and these are listed below the best practice recommendations.

From Birth


From birth, children should use rear facing child restraints for as long as they fit in them.

**For older restraints which do not have shoulder height markers, the sign of the child having outgrown the restraint is when the child’s shoulders are above the top shoulder harness slot for rear facing use.

**For restraints with shoulder height markers, the sign of the child having outgrown the restraint is when the child’s shoulders are above the upper shoulder height marker for rearward facing restraint use.


  Why this is important:

  Rear facing restraints are highly effective in preventing injuries if used
  correctly, because they fully support the child’s head and neck in the
  event of a crash.
This is important as infants have relatively large heads  
  and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries
the head and neck are not supported.

  Rearward facing restraints support the child’s head and neck in severe frontal
  crashes better than forward-facing restraints.



Other information: Restraints designed for extended rear facing use, up to approximately 2-3 years of age, are included in the new Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1754 - 2013 edition), and are called ‘Type A4 restraints’. While there is no experience with them yet, these are likely to be an acceptable alternative to a forward-facing child restraint for children who fit within them.

Minimum legal requirement: Children under 6 months must be restrained in an approved rear-facing restraint that is properly fitted to the vehicle and adjusted to fit the child’s body correctly.


For further information:


NHMRC Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint for Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles

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

    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