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Negligent drivers putting children’s lives at risk

Friday, 28th Dec 2018

New SA road-crash figures show seven children died and 95 were injured in the past five years because they were not properly restrained.

The shocking statistics have prompted an RAA safety warning for motorists to ensure youngsters are correctly restrained as thousands of families head off for summer holidays across the state.

Police data obtained by RAA also showed, of the 95 children injured, 34 were not using a child restraint whilst the other 61 were not wearing a seatbelt. Of those injured, six were babies under 12 months of age who suffered serious injury.

During the same five-year period, police cautioned or fined 3492 motorists for failing to ensure their passengers aged under 16 were restrained safely.

Among those caught this year was a motorist who also received a speeding fine for doing 126km/h in a 110km/h zone while the youngster was not restrained.

RAA child safety expert Belinda Maloney said there was no excuse for motorists to not properly restrain young passengers.

“It is important that parents restrain their children properly for every trip regardless of the distance as a crash can happen at any time,” she warned.

“Research shows that a child who is properly secured in an approved child restraint is far less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than one who is not.

“A third of passenger deaths and serious injuries involving children under seven years occurred when the child was not wearing a restraint at the time of the crash.’’

Ms Maloney said that young children were also at risk of being injured by airbags when seated in the front of a car or from moving to a seatbelt before they were big enough to wear it properly.

She said RAA’s Safety Centre found the overwhelming majority of child restraints checked were not installed correctly or were not being used correctly.

“RAA understands that many parents find installing a child restraint confusing and challenging, but a good fit is vital for the safety of their children,’’ she said.

“The most common problems we encounter are loose fitting and twisted harness straps.

“Although loose fitting or twisted harness straps may not sound serious, these issues can lead to greater injury for the child in the event of a crash.

“These issues are very easily fixed, so it’s very important for parents and caregivers to ensure they not only provide their children with a restraint that’s suitable for their size and age, but one that’s fitted and adjusted correctly as well.”

Ms Maloney also urged motorists to make regular stops on long trips and check child passengers were still restrained correctly at each stop.

 

Note for editors:

South Australian child restraint laws

  • Infants up to six months old must be restrained in an approved rearward facing infant restraint (dedicated infant restraint or rearward facing convertible safety seat).
  • Children aged between six months and four years old must be seated in either an approved rearward or forward facing child restraint (i.e. a safety seat with inbuilt harness).
  • Children from the age of four to seven years old must be seated in an approved forward facing child restraint (with inbuilt harness) or an approved booster seat (restrained by a correctly adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness).
  • Children seven years and over are required to be restrained in an approved child restraint (child safety seat or booster seat depending on their size) or a properly fitted and adjusted seatbelt.
  • Children under the age of four must be seated in the rear of the vehicle (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).
  • Children from the age of four to seven years are permitted in the front of the vehicle if all rear seats are already occupied by children up to the same age (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).
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