Kiddie seats are vital, says mum

By, Tessa Johnstone

A Masterton mum who had a car crash with her 6-week-old baby in the back seat is urging parents to make sure their children are buckled in correctly.

Kelly Tovio was driving along a rural Masterton road about six years ago when she was involved in a crash with another vehicle. Although it was minor, she said it was enough to give her a fright.

"If Dylan wasn't correctly restrained, he would have gone through the windscreen or the front seat in front of him."

Mrs Tovio, who now also has a 2-year-old, Liam, says she now double-checks her children's booster and car seats when they get in the car, even if it is just for a trip around town.

"It's so important that they are in their car seats, not only in them but in them properly."

Wairarapa Road Safety Council is holding a child safety restraint event at the Masterton UCOL carpark today, from noon to 4pm, checking restraints are correctly fitted and giving away booster seats.

Co-ordinator Kerry Hefferen said only half of children seen at routine checks were restrained correctly.

"These were not the kids that stand on the back seat waving completely unrestrained, like it is 1950. Many of the children were with parents and caregivers, who were horrified to discover what a dangerous situation their children were actually in."

Ms Hefferen said most parents a\were not well informed or aware of how to fit the child seat or how to tell when a child had outgrown it. She said that last month the road safety team stopped two cars, and eight of the nine children in them were not using a restraint or a seatbelt.

"One young lad was riding in the boot of a stationwagon, while the one restraint being used was expired - therefore not guaranteed to do what it needs to do in a crash."

Car seats have an expiry date because the plastic degrades in the sun.

New Zealand had one of the highest child road fatality rates in the OECD, which was in part due to the lack of or incorrect use of appropriate restraints, said Ms Hefferen.

"Car seats and booster seats, when installed and used correctly, save children's lives."


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