Australian driving laws are becoming tougher all the time, especially when it comes to child and baby safety. Everyone in a moving car must obviously be restrained, but children under seven years old are governed by special regulations. They must use special baby or infant seats which restrain them in a safer manner, reducing the risk of serious injury in a crash. The seat that is appropriate for your child depends on their age:
Children Under Four Years Old:
All babies six months old and younger must travel in a rear facing child restraint. Children between six months old and four years old can either travel in a rear facing restraint or in a forward facing child seat with an inbuilt harness.
All children under four years old have to travel in the back seat of a vehicle. If the vehicle has no back seats, then the child may travel in the front as long as they are in an appropriate child restraint. Note that you can’t use rear facing child restraints in the front seat if it has an airbag.
Children Between Four and Seven Years Old:
Children between four and seven years old must travel with either a forward facing child restraint or a booster seat. It is up to you to decide which of these is used, as it depends on your child’s size and maturity, not just their age.
Children between four and seven can only travel in the front seat of a vehicle if all of the back seats are taken by other passengers under seven, or if the vehicle has no back seats. Even if they are in the back seat, they still must be in a child restraint or booster seat.
Types of Child Restraints:
Rear Facing Child Restraints - These are designed to give your child’s neck and head the best protection possible in the case of a crash. Since this is the safest way for a young child to travel, they should remain in a seat like this until they grow out of it.
Forward Facing Child Restraints - These are used once your child has grown out of their rear facing restraint, and incorporate a secure harness to give your child the best protection. They can only be used until your child reaches a certain height, but must be used until at least 4 years old.
Booster Seat - Although these have less safety features and harnesses than other child restraints, they still give added protection to your child. They hold them in place and ensure that the seat belt fits across their body in the right manner.