Two‐thirds of AA Members are not sure when school‐age children should move from a booster seat to a normal seatbelt. This Friday the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years, with all children required to be correctly secured in an approved restraint until their seventh birthday – this includes booster seats.
However, regardless of their age, AA and child safety experts recommend that children stay in a booster seat until they reach 148cm in height. Seatbelts fit people who are 148cm and taller, which is why children need booster seats, raising them ‘up’ so that the adult size seatbelt fits them correctly.
Safekids Aotearoa estimates that half of New Zealand children still should be using a booster seat at 10 years old. “A seatbelt is designed to sit across the pelvis and ribcage, spreading crash forces over the strongest parts of our skeleton,” said Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids Aotearoa.
When using seatbelts that are too big for their size, children can suffer severe head, spine and abdominal injuries in a crash.
“Increasing the age that children must use a child restraint to 7 is an important step, but parents need to know that keeping school age kids in booster seats until they reach 148cm tall is going to keep them safer in the event of a crash,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.
“We asked a random sample of AA Members what height a child should be to use a safety belt without a booster seat and only 36.2% knew.”
Making sure that child and booster seats are installed correctly is just as important to keep children safe and checks often find that they are not properly fitted. Parents can get good installation advice by visiting a Plunket car seat clinic, or contacting an NZTA‐ certified child restraint technician.
You can also watch Safekids Aotearoa's Kids The Click! car seat installation videos.
Safekids Aotearoa ‘tricks and treats’ to keep school‐aged kids in booster seats:
- No booster seat, no trip. Tell them it’s the law.
- Tell them how it works. A seatbelt is designed for people 148cm and taller so it sits across the pelvis and ribcage, spreading crash forces over the strongest parts of our skeleton.
- Let them pick their boosters. It’s important that children are comfortable ‘owning’ their booster seats. So no Dora or Barney boosters please! There is a wide selection of cool and inexpensive booster seats that children can choose from.
- Praise them. Praise them every time they buckle in their boosters. Praise them for being role models to their younger siblings and to children at school.
For more information contact:
T. 09 63100717
M. 021 555 249
Senior Communications Adviser
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. 04 931 9991
M. 027 703 9935