Northland parents beware - new child seat rules come into force tomorrow that mean all children will need to be correctly secured in an approved child restraint until at least their seventh birthday.
From tomorrow the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years to at least a child's seventh birthday.
The current law says all children aged 5 to 7 to be secured in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle, and this rule will continue to apply for children aged 7. From Friday all children aged 0-6 will need to be correctly secured in an approved child restraint whenever they travel, and children aged 7 will need to be secured in an approved restraint if one is available in the vehicle they are travelling in. Approved child restraints can include baby capsules, car seats and booster seats.
One organisation gearing up for the change is Whangarei Plunket's Car Seat Service, which hires out child restraints to parents.
Service coordinator Lorna Baker said the new rules are all about safety and were in place for a reason. "It's to make sure children are securely seated in vehicles at all times.
"If you don't have a booster seat, say, the issue is that the child is often left too loose in the seat and could be thrown out [in an accident]. And often the seat is not installed correctly and we give training on how to do that too."
Mum Katy Berryman said ensuring son Matthew, 6, and daughter Stephanie, 8, were in proper child seats had always been important to her. "It's just so important. You want to do the best for your children and this is part of that."
Mrs Berryman said a nice side effect of the children being higher on their seats than they would be without the booster seats is it reduced carsickness.
NZTA is also reminding parents and caregivers that while it is recommended best practice that children use a booster seat or other approved restraint until they reach 148cm in height, the legal requirement for child restraint use in New Zealand is based on age, and there are no height-based requirements being introduced with the new rules.