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Frequently Asked Questions

 

At what age can a child travel in the front seat?

Although Victorian road rules allow children 7 years and over to travel in the front seat, research shows that children under 16 are at 40% greater risk of injury when traveling in the front seat.

What is a booster seat?

Booster seats have high backs and sides to provide protection for children in side impact crashes as well as providing support for when they are sleeping. They are suitable for children from around four years of age up to seven years of age.

Booster seats are used with an adult lap/sash seatbelt. The seatbelt must be correctly adjusted to protect the child in the instance of a crash.

Is it okay for my child to travel without a booster seat from 7 years of age?

Children aged between 7 and 16 years are require by law to travel in a ‘suitable approved booster seat’ or ‘a suitable seatbelt.’ Put simply, a lap -sash seatbelt is appropriate for people with a minimum height of 145cm, and a child should continue to use a booster seat until they have outgrown it.

If my child is in a booster seat, do they also need to be in a child safety harness?

Booster seats do not come with a child safety harness and are designed to be used with a lap-sash seatbelt.

A child safety harness is difficult to fit correctly and research recommends one shouldn’t be used where a lap-sash seatbelt is available.

If you are not able to replace your lap-only seatbelt with a lap-sash seatbelt you will need to use a child safety harness with a booster seat. In this case, it is recommended to use a booster seat with an anti-submarining feature - a device which holds the lap part of the seatbelt down low on the child's hip, to stop them from sliding under the seatbelt in a crash.

If the booster seat complies with an earlier version of the standard you will need to check if it has an anti-submarining clip or an anti-submarining feature. This information will be included in the restraint manufacturer’s instructions.
 If you must use a child safety harness, ensure that the shoulder straps are not too tight and that the lap part of the seatbelt is very low across the thighs, otherwise it may ride up into the child’s stomach area.

What’s the difference between an inbuilt harness and a child safety harness?

An inbuilt harness is made at the time of manufacture as part of the child restraint. Booster seats do not have inbuilt harnesses. Some forward facing child restraints convert to booster seats; this requires the inbuilt harness to be removed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the restraint is then used with an adult seatbelt.
A child safety harness is purchased as a separate item and is attached to a child restraint anchorage point and is sometimes used with a booster seat or lap-only seatbelt. 


I have heard that booster cushions (no seat back) are now illegal to use. Is this true?

Booster cushions have been deleted from the Australian standard for child restraints because they provide no side impact protection in a crash. They are still legal to use, but booster seats with high backs and side wings are recommended as they provide a higher level of safety.

Can we use a child restraint or booster seat from overseas?

No. Child restraints and booster seats purchased overseas do not comply with the Australian Standard for child restraints - one of the most stringent child restraint standards in the world. Unlike the European Standard, the Australian standard requires all restraints to be tested in side and rear impact tests and some with inverted test for roll-over protection.


What is a rearward facing restraint?

This is better known as a baby capsule or infant carrier. It is a restraint that must be used for babies from birth to around six months of age, which is held in place by a seatbelt and the top tether strap with the baby facing the rear of the vehicle. All have an inbuilt harness system and should only be used in a rearward-facing position until the infant’s shoulders meet the height marker LABEL 1.

 

Rearward facing is the safest way to transport your child so keep your baby rearward-facing as long as possible and don’t move to another car seat too quickly.

What is a forward facing restraint?

This type of restraint To be used in a forward-facing position with built-in harness once the child’s shoulders are above the lower shoulder height marker LABEL 1 (approx 6 months of age). When the child’s shoulders reach height marker LABEL 2 (approx 4 years of age) the child can safely move to a booster seat.

 

What is a convertible car seat?

A convertible car seat combines the features of rearward and forward facing restraints in one child restraint.

Rearward-facing: Suitable from newborn to approx 6 months or 12 months in a rearward-facing position (model specific) or until the infant’s shoulders meet the lower height marker LABEL 1.

Forward-facing: To be used in forward-facing position with built-in harness from approx 6-12 months of age or until the child’s shoulders reach the upper shoulder height marker LABEL 2 (approx 4 years of age).

Shoulder straps: The shoulder straps must be in the slots which are nearest to to he child’s shoulders but not lower than the child’s shoulders. All have an inbuilt six-point harness system and a top tether strap.

 

What is a convertible booster seat?

This combines the features of a forward facing restraint for children from age six months to four years of age and booster seats for children aged four to under-seven years of age. These restraints come with an inbuilt harness and a top tether strap.

Built-in harness: To be used with built-in harness once the child’s shoulders are above the lower shoulder height marker LABEL 1 (approx 6 months of age), until the child’s shoulders reach the middle shoulder height marker LABEL 2.

Change to booster mode when shoulders reach height marker LABEL 2 (approx 4 years of age).

Lap-sash: To be used with lap-sash seat belt from approx 4 years up to approx 6-8 years of age or until the child’s shoulders reach the upper height marker LABEL 3.

Who is responsible for ensuring a child is restrained in an approved restraint?

Motor vehicle drivers are responsible for ensuring all children aged under seven years of age are restrained in appropriate, standards approved restraints.