A safety initiative has been launched in West Auckland to reduce the number of fatalities caused by children travelling in inadequate child restraints. Meaning that parents who are pulled over, and who’s child is inadequately restrained, could be given a free new car seat rather than a fine.
According to the latest Ministry of Transport statistics, around 7% of children aged under five are not protected in an appropriate restraint for their age – either an infant seat, child seat, booster seat or a child harness.
Under a new Plunket led initiative for the West Auckland region, hundreds of new car seats will be donated to families found driving with children who are not correctly restrained.
Plunket regional injury prevention manager Simone Budel says the methodology of the MoT research into the use of child restraints does not take into account those which are incorrectly fitted or expired, suggesting the number of Kiwi children at risk is potentially much higher.
“Under the current law, every child aged under eight must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint”
“Research suggests we are falling well short of this standard particularly in Auckland which at just 11%, has the country’s second-lowest rate of compliance”
Checkpoints will be set up by police beginning 17 September near schools in the West Auckland region where more than X vehicles are expected to be stopped and inspected.
A free car seat will be provided for each child found to be travelling in a vehicle without the appropriate restraints for their age and size.
NZ Police spokesperson Shelley Nahr says preventative education is their primary role in addressing the safety of children in travelling in vehicles.
“The regulations around child restraints can be complex to understand and in many cases families simply cant afford to purchase a new one for every child.
“Every vehicle we stop over will be assessed to ensure all passengers are safely restrained,
“In a situation where this is not the case, this initiative will give us the chance to remedy this on the spot – helping us proactively protect some of the most vulnerable members of society,” she says.
The new child restraints for the initiative have been donated by The Trusts West Auckland – a social enterprise which returns millions of dollars annually to the local community and charity causes from the proceeds of their hospitality businesses and investments.
The Trusts CEO Simon Wickham says West Auckland says their donation is designed help raise awareness and support those in the local community.
“We understand many people living in our local community may be unaware of how to ensure their children travel safely in a vehicle or even that car seats which have been handed down from family to family have an expiry date imprinted on them.
“The opportunity to potentially save even just one child from a serious, preventable injury makes this a high priority initiative for our organisation,” he says.
What do you think of this initiative?
I think it’s great but of course I worry that people will take advantage of it to just get a free carseat. However, overall, I don’t think we realise how many kids are incorrectly restrained (or not even at all), and that a lot of it comes down to education.
Educating people / informing them, is the best way and I think that this initiative would go down well in other Auckland suburbs, and around the country.
If you’re after more information about what are adequate restraints for children, please check out: