Minister for Transport
The Honourable Rachel Nolan
Evidence boosts case for restraining kids in cars
A national package of new road safety laws announced by Transport Minister Rachel Nolan will make car travel safer for young children in Queensland.
Ms Nolan said new child restraint laws were the result of a national review and would improve safety through the use of child restraints and booster seats between the ages of one and seven.
Ms Nolan said an extensive study by the Medical Journal of Australia found that premature graduation of children into adult seatbelts greatly increased the risk of injury or death.
"There is clear evidence that a properly-fitted restraint can improve your child's chances of surviving a serious crash by up to 50 per cent," Ms Nolan said.
The new child restraint laws require all children up to seven to be appropriately seated in an Australian Safety Standard approved child restraint or capsule, according to their age and size.
"Seat belts were a revolution in vehicle safety but they're designed for adults and too many parents make the mistake of thinking it's okay for young children to use a normal seat.
"The sad truth is that seatbelts just don't protect children in the same way as they protect adults.
"The last thing parents want is to put their child at risk, but this is exactly what will happen if a young child is progressed too early into an adult seatbelt."
Ms Nolan said that while the laws would not come into force until March, parents shouldn't wait until the laws were in place to start using a booster seat for young children.
"My message today is clear - don't wait for the new laws to come into force," Ms Nolan said.
"Make it an early Christmas present - a booster seat is a gift that will save young lives and offer peace of mind to parents and families."
From April 2003 to March 2008, 1,827 children aged seven years or under were casualties in Queensland road crashes. This figure included 39 fatalities, 470 children under seven years of age were hospitalised with injuries, 881 children were medically treated, and 437 received minor injuries.
The state's peak motoring organisation supports the new laws, with RACQ chief executive officer Ian Gillespie saying the club had long called for clearer laws about child restraints.
"RACQ welcomes the new legislation, which will help guide parents to the safest types of restraints for their child, particularly in the four to seven age group," Mr Gillespie said.
"The club actively promotes the correct selection and use of restraints throughout Queensland, offering a fitting and advisory service for members for more than 20 years.
Ms Nolan said a $700,000 awareness and education campaign would begin later this year to advise people of the changes to road rules and child restraints.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads will provide an online guide to assist parents and carers in selecting a suitable child restraint.
Parents should check the manufacturer's product information on the child restraint to ensure correct usage. They can also have their child restraint checked and installed by an approved fitter such as RACQ, Queensland Ambulance Service or Kidsafe
Visit www.transport.qld.gov.au/childrestraints or phone 12 23 80 for more information on child restraints.
Other road rules from the national package being rolled out across all states will come into effect in Queensland from 12 October 2009, including:
*Seatbelts - a driver with a passenger of any age without a seatbelt can be fined $300 and 3 demerit points (previously a driver was only liable when the passenger was under 16 years of age).
*Single centre line - a driver doing a u-turn over a single continuous centre line will risk a $180 fine and the loss of three demerit points.
*Fog lights - driving with front fog lights in clear weather will risk a fine $40 (this previously only applied to rear fog lights).
For more information on Queensland road rules visit www.transport.qld.gov.au/roadrules