Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Questions raised at lax child carseat law

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The clinical director of Starship hospital's children's emergency department says the law on child car restraints lags behind other countries, following the injury of two unrestrained boys in a horrific crash.

Child advocacy groups are urging the Government to make all children up to age 12 use booster seats or appropriate restraints if they are less than 148cm tall.

A 5-year-old boy was last night in a serious but stable condition at Auckland's Starship hospital, while his younger brother was recovering, after a crash on Monday on State Highway 27 near Patetonga. The boys were in the back seat of a Toyota Hilux without carseats or booster seats when it collided with another 4x4. It is unknown whether the boys had seatbelts on.

Under the law, children under 5 have to be secured in a child restraint and children aged 5-7 are required to use booster seats if they are fitted.

Dr Michael Shepherd said legislation "did lag behind in this area" and said there was ample evidence child restraints saved lives and reduced injury. Unrestrained children had more severe injuries and suffered head, serious abdominal injuries and spinal injuries.

Plunket, Safekids and numerous other advocacy groups are lobbying the Government as part of a Safer Journeys strategy to increase requirements around child restraints.

However, NZ Transport Agency spokesman David Pearks said it was the responsibility of the adult driver to ensure the child was properly restrained. The biggest problem was child restraints incorrectly installed.

- NZ Herald

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