Australia’s states and territories have finally got their act together and established a National set of rules to govern children and how we secure them in cars.
The introduction of these new rules does vary. In Victoria they come into effect from November 9th 2009, Tasmania introduces them in December 2009 whilst the other states and territories will follow in 2010.
In a nutshell the following will apply:
- Under 6 months – Children must be seated in an approved and properly fitted rear facing child capsule
- 6 Months to 4 Years – Children must wear an approved and properly fitted rear or forward facing restraint with in-built harness
- 4 – 7 Years – Children must wear an approved and properly fitted forward facing child restraint with in-built harness or an approved booster seat, correctly fitted and fastened
Whilst these rules are to be welcomed they do not take into account that all children are not alike and nor do they grow alike. In 2007 the UK introduced regulations that stipulated child restraints based on height, all the way up to 12 years. A surprisingly innovative and refreshing approach for a Government given how obvious and practical this approach is.
Working off height ensures that an adult seat belt is better used by shorter children in the 7-12 year bracket through the use of booster seats. There might be some disgruntled short 12 year olds (I would have definitely fallen into this category) but at the end of the day if the unthinkable happens and you are in an accident at least you are maximising your family’s protection.
As far as the Front Passenger Seat is concerned the safest approach is simply not to use it for any child under the age of 12. A great rule of thumb is if they are not teenagers yet then keep them behind you.
The Car rental companies that DriveNow partners with in Australia all carry a stock of booster and child seats. These can be hired and are normally charged out on a per day basis. When booking with DriveNow you can order your child seat(s) at the same time. It’s highly recommended to do this when making your booking rather than leaving it until the last minute. Stock will be limited and run out fast particularly at busy times such as Christmas, Easter and School Holidays.
DriveNow Partner and sometime blog contributor