Safety initiative set to reduce number of children without car restraints

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Safety initiative set to reduce number of children without car restraints

Media release from West Auckland Trusts
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A safety initiative to reduce the number of fatalities caused by children travelling in inadequate child restraints has been launched in West Auckland.

According to the latest Ministry of Transport statistics, around 7% of children aged under five are not protected in an appropriate restraint for their age - either an infant seat, child seat, booster seat or a child harness[1].

OECD International Road and Traffic Accident figures show the fatality rate of New Zealanders aged under 15 years in motor vehicle crashes is greater than 17 of 29 other countries that contribute data to the database[2]. Latest road safety figures show there were around 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population for those aged under 15 in motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand[3].
Under a new Plunket led initiative for the West Auckland region, hundreds of new car seats will be donated to families found driving with children who are not correctly restrained.

Plunket regional injury prevention manager Simone Budel says the methodology of the MoT research into the use of child restraints does not take into account those which are incorrectly fitted or expired, suggesting the number of Kiwi children at risk is potentially much higher.

“Under the current law, every child aged under eight must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint,
“Research suggests we are falling well short of this standard particularly in Auckland which at just 11%, has the country’s second-lowest rate of compliance[4].

Checkpoints will be set up by police beginning 17 September near schools in the West Auckland region where more than X vehicles are expected to be stopped and inspected.

A free car seat will be provided for each child found to be travelling in a vehicle without the appropriate restraints for their age and size.

NZ Police spokesperson Shelley Nahr says preventative education is their primary role in addressing the safety of children in travelling in vehicles.

“The regulations around child restraints can be complex to understand and in many cases families simply cant afford to purchase a new one for every child.

“Every vehicle we stop over will be assessed to ensure all passengers are safely restrained,
“In a situation where this is not the case, this initiative will give us the chance to remedy this on the spot - helping us proactively protect some of the most vulnerable members of society,” she says.

The new child restraints for the initiative have been donated by The Trusts West Auckland - a social enterprise which returns millions of dollars annually to the local community and charity causes from the proceeds of their hospitality businesses and investments.

The Trusts CEO Simon Wickham says West Auckland says their donation is designed help raise awareness and support those in the local community.

“We understand many people living in our local community may be unaware of how to ensure their children travel safely in a vehicle or even that car seats which have been handed down from family to family have an expiry date imprinted on them.

“The opportunity to potentially save even just one child from a serious, preventable injury makes this a high priority initiative for our organisation,” he says.

The Trusts recently installed dozens of Automated External Defibrillators at locations around the region in a move designed to improve the coverage of the potentially life-saving devices in the West Auckland community.

[1] MoT Data accessible here.
[2] MoT Data accessible here.
[3] MoT Data accessible here.
[4] MoT Data accessible here.

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