Checkpoints give car seat advice

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 16/04/2014

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Palmerston North parents with badly installed car seats or who were unsure about the rules have been given advice rather than tickets by Plunket, police and the Horizons Regional Council.

The three agencies set up checkpoints on Church St, near The Warehouse, and on Napier Rd, outside Memorial Park, yesterday, where they stopped cars to check child restraints and educate parents on proper techniques.

Horizons Regional Council road safety co-ordinator Desley Monks said the checkpoints were not in place to give tickets, but to make sure children were safe.

Monks said the biggest problem Plunket car seat technicians were seeing was badly fitted car seats and parents who didn't realise their child could be in danger.

"The technicians are doing the installations right now and if they need bolts we are giving them out," she said.

"The other thing is some parents have their child [in a car seat] in the front seat which is dangerous, because the airbag, when it expels, travels about 280km per hour so it can kill the child."

Manawatu-Whanganui car seat technician Dianne Skarott said technicians were seeing incorrect installations that could be dangerous.

"Children need to be in an approved restraint up until they are seven years," she said. "There are recommendations around what you should and shouldn't do, but we recommend rear facing up until two years old and if there is an air bag in the car then not to put them in the front seat."

Manawatu-Whanganui car seat manager Veronica Feildsend said not all car seats were fitted the same way, so it was important to "try before you buy".

"We're finding a lot of the European seats are not installed correctly and the seat belts aren't always long enough in the Japanese cars," she said. "We recommend people, if they buy or are given a car seat, try it out first."

Constable Warwick Denby said "it was all about those safe little packages in the back seat" when it came to policing car seats.

"As police we are asking cars to stop as Plunket is here and 99 per cent of people say yes because it's just eduction for them," he said. "The importance of safe car seats is that even in a nose-to-tail kids can fly forward, and if they're not installed properly, even in a 50km crash children can be injured."

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- Manawatu Standard

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