Hervey Bay’s Amanda Packer buckles sons Braydon, 6, and Tyler, 3, into their booster seats.
Hervey Bay’s Amanda Packer buckles sons Braydon, 6, and Tyler, 3, into their booster seats. Karleila Thomsen

Confusion on new child safe laws

NEW LAWS about child safety seats come into effect today and have met mixed reaction – and confusion.

Hervey Bay mother-of-four Amanda Packer gives a tick of approval to the changes, which require all children under 7 to be in a child restraint while in the car.

“I think it’s fantastic,” says Ms Packer, whose youngest two sons are three and six years old.

Aside from the new age limit, the changes affect the type of seat used by children, whether a baby capsule, restraint with harness or booster, and take into consideration age and weight.

For example, children six months to one year and weighing eight to 12 kilograms must sit in an infant restraint.

The age and weight combination has confused parents and media already, however Kidsafe Qld says that if, for example, your toddler is six months but weighs less than 8kg, he or she falls under the younger, lighter category for toddlers zero to six months.

The laws currently require a toddler up to 12 months to be in a capsule and from 12 months to be in a booster. However there is no minimum age they must reach before graduating from a restraint to just using the car seat belt.

Drivers who do not comply with the changes risk being fined $300 and losing three demerit points for each unrestrained or incorrectly restrained child.

Despite applauding the move, Ms Packer, 29, says her six-year-old does not need to be in a booster because he is tall and seat belts sit in the correct spot across his shoulder. She also says because he has cerebral palsy, a booster poses problems for his legs, with uncomfortable pressure on the backs of his knees.

Ms Packer’s mother-in-law, Maryborough’s Carolyn Gosano, agrees the laws are a step in the right direction but says the government has not given enough support to parents.

The 55-year-old grandmother of 12 is outraged at the prospect of drivers having to buy new seats to replace current ones: “It’s a great idea and they should have done it a long, long time ago ... but it needs to be more affordable.”

She suggests government subsidies or grants for parents with four or more children under the age of seven.

Ms Packer disagrees: “There’s already grants; the baby bonus. Tell parents to spend their bonus on their kids and not on cigarettes and alcohol.”

NEW RULES

0-6 mths (less than 8kg) – backward facing baby capsule or infant restraint

6mths-1yr (8-12kg) – backward or forward facing infant restraint

6mths-4yrs (8-18kg) – forward facing child restraint with built-in harness

4-7yrs (14-26kg) – booster seat with H-harness or a booster seat with a secured adult seat belt

The laws will be enforced by police and will come into effect across Australia

The government has introduced the changes to reduce the effects of serious injury or death in the event of a car crash. For more information go to www.transport.qld.gov.au



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