We all know there's nothing more precious than your child. And road safety research shows children seated correctly within a vehicle are seven times safer in the event of a crash. So what can you do to keep your most valuable cargo safe on the road?
Luckily all the information you need is easy to find. On their website the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia lists Ten Essential Steps to keeping your child safe in the car.
Choosing a good car seat for your child is important. But with dozens of models on the market, how do you know which is the safest?
Rules of the road
Firstly, it's law that you have the right car seat to match your child's age and size:
- An infant capsule should be used for babies up to about six months of age.
- A forward-facing car seat should be used until your child is at least four years old.
- A booster seat is designed for children aged from four to around eight years old.
- An adult lap-sash seatbelt is designed for people at least 145 cm tall.
Check the website of the road authority in your state or territory for more information.
Best seat in the house
The Australian standard for baby car seats is one of the toughest in the world. However, the quality of seats approved for sale varies widely.
To take the guesswork out of finding the best, a group of government agencies and motorist organisations have formed the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP). They conduct crash tests of car seats and post the results online. Take a look at the slow-motion crash test videos on their website to get an idea of how a car seat can protect your child in an accident.
Of 108 seats tested by CREP since 2012, only four have the gold standard five-star rating* (see the list at the end of this article). Surprisingly, they were not even the most expensive seats to buy.
Having chosen the right car seat, it is just as important to fit it properly. Inspections by the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT) found that up to 75 per cent of child restraints are fitted incorrectly.
Many road safety organisations will check if your seat is fitted properly for a nominal fee. For example, Kidsafe has branches in all major Queensland centres that will check the installation of a child car restraint for $20.
Choosing the safest car seat and fitting it correctly is crucial, but remember that the most important step you can take to keep your family safe on the road is to always drive carefully.
Five-star rated child car seats* as tested by the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP):
- Babylove EzyFit BL4200A/2010
- Hipod Boston Series 4200/A/2010
- Babylove Ezy Boost Series BL4400/A/2010
- Safe-N-Sound Hi-Liner SG Series 4830/A/2010
*Accurate as at 27 July 2015.