Booster-seat campaign gets backing
A law change to keep children in booster seats to the age of 7 has the support of child safety organisations, though some differ on whether it went far enough.
Injury prevention service Safe Kids agrees the change - which comes into effect on November 1 - is a step in the right direction but would prefer booster seats being used until children reached a height of 148cm.
Police also support the new regulations, but say an age limit is more practical when it comes to enforcement.
Plunket national child safety adviser Sue Campbell said seatbelts were designed for adults, not children, who needed a restraint or a booster seat to be safe.
"Without a booster seat, an adult seatbelt sits too high on a child . . . In a crash this can result in serious head and spinal cord injuries and horrific injuries to the abdomen . . .," she said.
Safe Kids New Zealand director Ann Weaver agreed, saying carefully choosing a booster seat for a 5-year-old meant it could last until they were 11 or 12 , and 148cm tall.
Otorohanga resident Lou Pitts-Brown agrees, and she has good reason to be a strong advocate.
In January 2010 her family were involved in a head-on crash near Te Anga. She believes her sons Archie and Finley, then 7 and 6, were saved by booster seats.
"Emergency services and doctors told us that if the boys were not using booster seats they could have suffered severe seatbelt-related injuries or worse, could have been ejected out of the car."
Instead, they received minor seatbelt bruising, and left hospital the same night, she said.
Plunket information shows New Zealand's child road fatality rates are among the highest in the OECD, with about five children killed or injured every week.