Mandatory car seats for 7-year-olds

Children up to the age of seven will have to use a car seat under new rules announced today.

Those aged between seven and eight will have to use one if it is available.

Currently only passengers up to the age of five must use an appropriate child restraint and those between five and eight must use one of it's available.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the change was a sensible move to improve children's safety.

"International and local research shows that in the event of a crash, young school age passengers are at considerable risk if they are only restrained by an adult seatbelt.

"Injury risk can be significantly reduced by having child passengers use age-appropriate restraints, such as booster seats."

The new mandatory limit would align New Zealand with Australian requirements, he said.

Child restraint regulations were recently reviewed as part of the Transport Ministry's Action Plan for Safer Journeys.

The requirement for children up to the age of seven to be in a car seat will come into effect within the next year following consultation on other impacts of the changes.

The consultation will consider whether to retain current exemptions for car seats in taxis and emergency vehicles.

It will also seek feedback on large families and the difficulty of getting more than two car seats in most vehicles.

Fairfax Media