The NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers that changes to child restraint laws come in to force on November 1, and the agency is urging parents and caregivers to plan ahead to ensure that they can comply with the new rules and keep their small passengers safe.
From Friday November 1 the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years - so all children will need to be correctly secured in an approved child restraint until at least their 7th birthday.*
Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zöllner says the new rules will help to keep more children safe on New Zealand roads.
“The new rules for child restraint use are being introduced for one purpose - to stop children from being killed or seriously injured when travelling in vehicles. The death or serious injury of any child is a tragedy, and even more so when it can be prevented with the use of simple and widely available equipment like child restraints,” Mr Zöllner said.
Seats and safety belts installed in vehicles are designed and manufactured to most effectively protect an average sized adult in the event of a crash. Children, because they are smaller and have a different body shape to adults, need additional seating equipment to keep them as safe as adults in a car.
Mr Zöllner said for safety reasons child restraints used in New Zealand must be ‘approved’ and must display standards markings to show they are approved and safe to be used.
More information about approved standards for child restraints and list of certified Child Restraint Technicians, who can provide expert advice, can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/childrestraints(external link)
In the ten years from 2002 to 2011, crashes on New Zealand roads claimed the lives of 24 child passengers aged 5 to 7, with another 115 suffering serious injuries. There are currently an estimated 175,000 children aged between 5 and 7 in New Zealand.
*Current law requires children to use child restraints until their 5th birthday, and children aged five, six and seven to use an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle. If not, they must be restrained in any child restraint or safety belt that is available. From 1 November (because of the mandatory age extension) this part of the rule will only continue apply to children aged seven.