Increased age for mandatory child restraints

  • Simon Bridges

A new rule that raises the upper limit for the mandatory use of child restraints is a sensible move to help keep more of our children safe on the roads, says Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges.

“International and local research shows that in the event of a crash, young school age passengers are at considerable risk if they are only restrained by an adult seatbelt.

“Injury risk can be significantly reduced by having child passengers use age-appropriate restraints, such as booster seats.  Extending the mandatory restraint requirements is an important step up.”

As a part of the 2011/2012 Action Plan for Safer Journeys, the Ministry of Transport was tasked with investigating extending child restraint requirements.  Currently the law specifies that young passengers up to the age of 5 years must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint, and those between 5 and 8 must use one if it is available.

Under the new rule, children aged up to 7 must be in an appropriate child restraint, and those aged between 7 and 8 will be required to use a child restraint if one is available.

The new mandatory limit will align New Zealand’s requirement with that which currently applies in Australia.

The new limit will require changes to the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004.  Public consultation will be undertaken as part of this process to ensure that practical issues are addressed and managed.

“We want to make the changes flexible enough that it doesn’t create undue difficulties for taxi drivers or large families, for instance.”

An education campaign and an appropriate lead-in period before the change comes into effect will assist with the transition.

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