#childsafety | Stop.Think.Drive: KidSafe Tasmania urges caregivers to regularly check child restraints | The Examiner

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Parents are being urged to have their child safety restraints checked, with nearly 90 per cent of car seats found to be incorrectly fitted in Tasmania. Transport-related injury remains one of the leading causes of death for Australian children, with child restraints required up until seven years of age. But KidSafe Tasmania has found those restraints were not always up to standard, with simple installation mistakes putting children at risk of serious injury or death. The child safety organisation offers free checks and fittings, and chief executive officer Jenny Branch-Allen said there needed to be more education for new parents. Speaking as part of The Examiner’s road safety campaign Stop. Think. Drive, Mrs Branch-Allen said the most common errors were not clipping the seat to the correct anchor point, not purchasing the appropriate seat for their child, leaving seatbelt straps twisted, and facing their child forward before it was safe to do so. “We are doing constant child restraint checks, and finding up to 90 per cent need some sort of correction, from minor issues to major issues where the seat would absolutely fail in an accident,” she said. “There are so many things you need to evaluate when buying, fitting and using a child restraint, and it is not just a matter of fitting it and walking away, it really needs regular checks. “You service your car, you check your car battery, so you should check your child restraint regularly too.” IN OTHER NEWS: In Australia, babies must be rear facing until they are six months of age, and then a parent can legally turn their car seat around. But the law was “just a guide”, Mrs Branch-Allen said. “Six months is a guide, not all children are the same, some are short, some are long. If they still fit in rear facing, then they should be kept rear facing. And if you are not sure, then bring the restraint to us to get checked, we can check with the child in the car, and it is free. “An accident where a child dies or is seriously injured leaves lifelong impacts on the family, you never recover from something like that. In a severe accident, you want to minimise the risk to the child, and make them as safe as possible.” RACT’s chief member experience officer Stacey Pennicott said an approved and properly fitted car seat may reduce the risk of death or serious injury in Australian road crashes by up to 70 per cent. “We know that children are particularly vulnerable if they are passengers in a vehicle involved in a crash,” she said. “The best thing that we can do as a community is to make sure all parents have access to up-to-date safety information and advice. That’s why we have a section of our website dedicated to keeping children safe while they are in a vehicle.” RACT checks in the 12 months leading up to June 2020 also found 80 per cent of car seats needed an adjustment. “Through our community checks we’ve found the four most common adjustment reasons were fixing loose seatbelts, using the incorrect location for seatbelts, top tether strap issues and twisted harness issues,” Ms Pennicott said. For a free car restraint check, contact Kidsafe Tasmania’s road safety manager on 0407 692 403. RACT can also be contacted on 13 27 22. For information on car seat safety visit https://www.ract.com.au/cars-and-driving/car-seats.


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