Using a correctly-fitted and sized car seat will reduce your child’s risk of injury or death in the event of a car crash.
- Learn about your driver responsibilities for children
- How to correctly install a car seat
- Find out how to be car seat sure
Children must be restrained at all times when travelling in a vehicle, even when travelling a short distance. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to make sure any child travelling in your vehicle is correctly secured.
If you do have a car crash, car seats can prevent or lessen injury to your child by:
- Keeping your child inside the vehicle.
- Contacting the strongest parts of your child's body and spreading the crash forces over a wide area.
- Helping the body to slow down safely.
- Protecting the head, neck and spinal cord.
Car seats can be difficult to install - not everyone gets it right and this can affect the restraint’s ability to protect your child in a car crash.
Find a child restraint technician
Child restraint technicians can give you advice on the type of car seat to use. They have practical knowledge to correctly fit your car seat into your car and will show you how to do it.
Child restraint technicians are available throughout Auckland to assist you to select, install and use car seats safely.
1. Check the seat size
Make sure your child under 7 years of age is properly restrained in an approved car seat that is appropriate for their age and size (weight/height).
Children have outgrown their car seat when they are over the manufacturer's recommended height/weight restrictions. The specific type of car seat you need depends on the age and size of your child and needs to fit your car.
It is recommended children are in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed for the car seat.
2. Secure the seatbelt correctly
Make sure the seat belt passes through all the correct guides on the car seat.
The car seat should rest firmly on the seat with little or no movement. Once installed it should not move more than 2.5cm in any direction.
The top of the car seat potentially has some movement, but the base of the seat should be firm.
ISOFIX is an alternative way to safely install a car seat in your car, without using a seat belt.
Check to see if your car has ISOFIX points. These can be found on each side of the seat, between the seat back and cushion with two metal shape D rings or a bar that runs along the seat. Look out for an ISOFIX tag on the seat.
On the car seat base lock, the ISOFIX connectors into the two ISOFIX rings or bar located in the seat. Make sure your car seat is fitted securely in your car using ISOFIX installation.
There is a maximum weight limit for using ISOFIX points. Once your child reaches the maximum weight, you will need to use the seatbelt installation only. Refer to your car seat instruction manual for more details.
3. Anchor the seat (if applicable)
Car seats with a tether strap must be fixed to the tether/anchor point. This is used in conjunction with a three-point seatbelt. Refer to your car seat instruction manual for more details.
Tether/anchor points are usually located in the top/middle or bottom on the back of the seat or in the boot space. These points are stronger than a luggage clip.
Tether points are not in the same place in every car. Refer to your car manual to find out whether your car has tether points and where they are located.
If your car doesn’t have tether/anchor points, they can be fitted by a qualified mechanic at a cost.
4. Make sure the harness is flat and firm
The harness should not be twisted and must be firm against the child’s chest and over the shoulders.
There should be no more than a finger’s width of slack between the child and the harness. Always give the harness a tug to make sure that the harness adjuster is holding fast. Do not overtighten.
If there is a chest clip, this is placed across the chest at the height of the child’s armpits.
Also check the harness level suits the child’s shoulder height. Refer to your car seat instruction manual for more details.
You may also be interested in:
- Ministry of Transport: Child restraints
- Safekids: Preventing child passenger injuries
- Plunket: Car seat advice
- Plunket: Keep kids safe in cars