Child restraint installation safety checks

THE RACT is reminding motorists of the importance of correctly fitting child restraints in motor vehicles after finding too many potentially life-threatening fitting errors at checks conducted over the past four months.

RACT Community Manager Will Oakley said the reminder was timely given the recent Children’s Week 2016 (22-30 October) and followed the launch of Tasmania Police’s Seat Belt Saves Lives campaign.

“Road trauma accounts for 40 per cent of childhood deaths in Australia, and a major cause of this is children not being appropriately restrained,” he said.

“Our free community safety checks highlight the fact that the safety messages around properly fitting child restraints was not getting through.

“Since 1 July we have conducted more than 200 free safety checks and had to adjust 80 per cent of the restraints we checked.

“While it is often not through negligence, regardless we have seen some very concerning restraints and installations.

“The results seem to be particularly bad in remote communities as they are further from professional advice.”

Mr Oakley said common mistakes included using a restraint that was more than 10-years-old, not following the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the child’s age and height or fastening it somewhere other than the designated anchor point.

“Unfortunately, we sometimes see a combination of all three of these mistakes,” he said.

Some particularly bad examples Mr Oakley has witnessed include four untethered restraints in one vehicle, seats being used that were manufactured in the early 1990s and a five-year-old travelling in the front seat without a restraint at all.

Nick Tabor, of Snug, looks back on his car crash on 21 April this year, and says he is just so thankful he was driving alone.

Mr Tabor, who is a new father, was travelling south on the Channel Highway on his way home from work when a northbound vehicle veered onto his side of the road, ultimately crashing into him head-on.

Even though he was travelling alone that day, it made him fully appreciate just how important child restraints are.

“When we left the hospital for the first time with our baby son, I figured I could just throw the capsule in and away I went,” he said.

“It was a real wake-up call for me so I went and got as much advice as I could.

“I was careful before my crash, but now I have experienced first-hand how dangerous the road can be, I check and double check Archie’s restraint before I go anywhere.”

After his crash, the RACT helped Mr Tabor replace the child restraint as it could no longer be trusted to provide the necessary support in a crash, a step Mr Oakley insists is very important.

“The restraint may look fine, but if it has been involved in a crash with enough impact to inflate the airbag, it may not be as reliable next time.”

Caption: Child restraint check: Nick Tabor, of Snug, and son Archie pictured with RACT Community Manager Will Oakley.

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