Car seats, child restraints, booster seats – what is required?

The world of babies and children can be confusing and overwhelming.  All we want as parents are for our children to be safe and protected.  Cars can be incredibly dangerous.  In 2017 in South Australia there were 45 road fatalities and 245 serious injuries.  (Visit the website – Mac.sa.gov.au)

Let’s start with a quick overview of your own vehicle.

When travelling in a motor vehicle in South Australia, all children under 16 years of age must be restrained in an approved restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened.

Not only is it not safe for your child not to be correctly restrained, it is also an offence.  As the driver of a motor vehicle, it is your responsibility that all children in the motor vehicle are correctly restrained. (Link to- Australian Road Rule 266). Failing to do so, is not only dangerous but would result in a fine and an accrual of 3-5 demerit points, depending on how many children aren’t restrained properly.

Child restraints must comply with the Australian New Zealand Standard 1754 and must be marked accordingly.  Whether your child is required to be in a rear or forward facing car seat, a booster with a lap belt or a safety harness will depend on the age and weight of your child.  The My Licence (Visit the website – mylicence.sa.gov.au) website provides a comprehensive guide to each age group and what is required.

Having your car seat properly fitted is also important.  The RAA offer free fittings to all RAA members or $30 for non-members. (Visit the website – raa.com.au). The Red Cross also fit child restraints from $20. (Visit the website – redcross.org.au)

If you are travelling on a bus (a vehicle designed to carry over 12 adults including the driver) you are not required to have your child in a child restraint.  Also if you are travelling in a taxi you are not required to have your child in a child restraint.  The taxi driver is not required to provide a child restraint.  The following rules do however apply if there is not an approved child restraint available:

  • if your child is under seven they must sit in the back row of the motor vehicle that has two or more rows of seats;
  • if your child is under one, and you’re sitting in the back row, they may sit on your lap (but not under the seatbelt) or on the lap of another passenger as long as that passenger is 16 years or older;
  • if your child is between one and seven, they must sit in their own seat in the back row with the seat belt fastened; and
  • if your child is seven or over they must wear a seatbelt.

The Australian Road Rules define a taxi as defined in the dictionary.  The My Licence website states that an Uber is a private vehicle and therefore does not have the same exemptions as taxis.  There is certainly ambiguity when it comes to Ubers.  We suggest to err on the side of caution and to use your own child restraint in an Uber if they don’t provide one.

If you have been charged with breaching the road rules in relation to children’s child restraints, please contact (link to contact details) our office for an appointment.

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