When Debbie Webster manned the gates at the A&P Association's annual show in February she was appalled to see children incorrectly restrained in vehicles.

Debbie, the Horizons road safety co-ordinator for Tararua and Horowhenua, said she had seen similar behaviour the previous year when she had been a volunteer on the gates for the Friday show.

"I was appalled. I saw a young child sitting on her mother's lap in the back seat and in another car a very young child sitting in the front seat with just the lap part of the adult seat belt holding her in," she said.

Other incidents included a 5-year-old wearing an adult seat belt and a very young child sitting in a full booster using an adult seat belt and children being transported in a van in booster seats using a lap belt only.


"There were several children being transported and not being restrained at all as well as a number of drivers and their passengers not wearing seat belts," she added.

Seatbelt use and the correct use of child restraints is an issue for Tararua. Late last year, Horizons, police and Plunket teamed up and conducted child restraint checks at locations around the Tararua. Of the 163 child restraints checked, 95 were incorrectly installed in vehicles.

Yesterday, Ms Webster and the Plunket team of Veronica, Helen and Judy, and Mark Gilbert of the Highway Patrol were out again around Dannevirke carrying out child restraint checks.

"This is a follow-up to my concerns that were raised during my time on the showground gates on Friday, February 5 at the A&P Show," Ms Webster said.

"With most crashes happening close to home, drivers are placing themselves and their passengers at huge risk of being seriously injured or worse killed in the event of a crash. At even low speeds of 50km/h around town, a small child can become a projectile and end up being flung from the vehicle.

"It's about stopping and having a conversation with people while we check their car seats and restraints.

"A comment we often get from parents is that they didn't realise that if there is a tether strap on the child restraint, in most cases, it must be used.

"This means it must be clipped to an anchor point (bolt) in the vehicle."

For Dannevirke man Damon Wharewhiti, who now lives in Murupara, being stopped at the police and Plunket checkpoint on Allen St was a good thing.

"It's good to know stuff like this. I didn't know that the anchor bolt was part of the car seat," he said.

In the Tararua there are three outlets which offer free bolt installations, funded by Horizons. The Dannevirke workshop is at Treadwell Auto Services.

Keep them safe:

* For children 0-14 years, one of the leading causes of injury involves children as passengers in vehicles, with about 18 deaths a year and the equivalent of one classroom (26) of children admitted to hospital every month.

* In the event of a car crash, booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59 per cent.

* Half of all New Zealand children still need to use a booster seat at 10 years of age.

* It is recommended children use a booster seat until they are 148cm tall.

Source: Safekids Aotearoa