Car safety for school age children

Car safety for school age children

School age children are not travelling as safely as they could. To be safe children need to be in booster seats until they are 148cm tall. For the majority of children this is somewhere between 9 and 12 years of age.

Key points to remember

Photo of father buckling up his child into a car seat in the back seat of a car

Put your school kids in the back seat in a booster.

  • New Zealand law says all children in vehicles must be correctly secured in an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday
  • New Zealand law also says you must correctly secure your child in an approved restraint if one is available in the vehicle (and if not, in any child restraint or safety belt that is available) until their 8th birthday
  • age is used as a guide for the law.  Height and body shape are the most important measures for safety. To be safest, children need to be in booster seats until they are 148cm tall. For the majority of children this is somewhere between 9 and 12 years of age 
  • school age children don't fit adult seat belts. Their legs are too short and they don't sit up far enough. They slouch down to get their knees comfortable over the edge of the seat. The lap part of the belt rides up over their stomach and the sash part of the belt lies across the neck instead of the shoulder. They are not held firmly in place against the seat and move more in a crash
  • the result of this is head and spinal cord injuries and injuries to the abdomen including ruptured livers and spleens
  • booster seats sit children up straight with their bottoms firmly against the back of the seat. They keep the lap part of the belt low over the top of the legs and allow them to be high enough for the sash part of the belt to go over the shoulder and breast bone and away from the neck. They can also see more!
  • children risk head and neck injuries from airbags and are safer in the rear seat. If you have absolutely no choice and a child has to sit in the front, the front seat should be moved back as far as possible and a booster should still be used

Acknowledgements

Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the cooperation of the Starship Intensive Care Unit in making this content available to parents and families.

This page last reviewed 29 April 2016.
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