Practical help to protect the lives of youngsters in cars

PARENTS and caregivers have a key role to play in educating their children about road safety, Goodstart Early Learning state manager Chris Symons said.

Speaking during National Road Safety Week (1-6 May), Mr Symons joined the RACT and Kidsafe Tasmania in urging parents and carers to check their child car restraints were correctly installed and adjusted every time they were used, no matter how long or short the journey.

“Failure to do so could put children at serious risk of traumatic brain injury or death as a result of a motor vehicle crash,” he said.

The RACT and Kidsafe were on site at Goodstart Early Learning – Hobart West on 2 May to conduct free safety inspections of child restraints and to demonstrate to motorists their correct and incorrect usage.

“Parents and carers of young children, including grandparents, can benefit enormously from road safety education information,” Mr Symons said.

“The centre conducts regular car restraint checks as part of our commitment to providing practical help to protect the lives of youngsters in cars,” he said.

“We include RACT resources and fact sheets in our enrolment packs and provide families with access to the RACT’s education DVD which demonstrates the correct way to install a child restraint.”

RACT Motoring Services Manager Peter Gillon said a correctly fitted child car restraint could decrease the risk of serious injury by up to seven times in a collision.

Of 36 car restraints checked on 2 May, 31 needed adjustment, nine were age-inappropriate, three were out-of-date and four were not safe.

Five people approached for a free assessment of their child restraints refused.

Mr Gillon said of the four restraints found to be unsafe, two were untethered and the other two were tethered to luggage tie-downs.

“The best protection for your child is a properly secured child safety seat,” he said.

“If these vehicles were involved in a crash as we found them today, a child in a car restraint in that vehicle would have either been seriously injured or killed.”

Mr Gillon said despite the importance of proper installation, research showed that about 80 per cent of vehicle child restraints were fitted or used incorrectly.

“This is an alarming statistic, especially when you consider the fact that motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of child death and acquire disability in Australia,” he said.

Mr Gillon said children should be restrained with seatbelts and booster seats that were appropriate for their age and size.

He said some of the most common mistakes he saw included seats and seat bases that were installed too loosely in a vehicle, twisted harnesses and faulty or broken belt buckles.

“Rearward facing and forward facing restraints need to be installed with a top tether, with the strap securely fastened to prevent the restraint from moving forward in a crash,” Mr Gillon said.

In 2015 the RACT launched an educational DVD for parents, grandparents and professionals who work with young families that demonstrates the correct way to install a child restraint.

The DVD, officially launched in the maternity ward of the Hobart Private Hospital, highlights common mistakes made when fitting a child restraint in a vehicle.

It can be accessed by hospitals, child care centres and other relevant care providers for use as an education resource for families.

National Road Safety Week aims to increase awareness about the need for all road users to be safe and courteous on the roads to reduce the chances of crashes that could result in death or serious injury.

The annual event is also about remembering those who have been killed or injured on the state’s roads.

The five major causes of road crashes are not wearing a seatbelt or child restraint, inattention, driving tired, speeding, and drink and drug driving.

One of the causes was highlighted each day of Road Safety Week with Tasmania Police focusing on that behaviour.

The weeklong campaign was supported by Tasmania Police, RACT and the Road Safety Advisory Council.

Caption: From left, RACT Motoring Services Manager Peter Gillon and Kidsafe Tasmania chief executive officer Jenny Branch-Allen with Hazel Richards, 3, and Lewis Richards, 17 months, both of Lutana, who are safely buckled up in their child car restraints, which were assessed as part of National Road Safety Week.

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