Regulations for Child Restraint in Vehicles

Making sure your baby’s car seat complies with the latest safety requirements is a legal obligation. It is a good idea to seek the services of a professional child car restraint fitter to ensure peace of mind. Your baby car seat retailer should be able to assist you, or alternatively visit the Royal Automobile Club in your state or territory and see if they provide restraint fitting services close to home.

If travelling with one child only, place them diagonally opposite the driver’s seat, so they are not travelling on the ‘traffic side’.

Remember your baby’s car seat needs to fit the baby – and the car! It might sit nicely in the back seat, but when the baby grows and needs leg room, is there sufficient space, or will you be pushing the front seats forward?

The following is a guide only and based on information for Victoria – your state or territory legislation might differ.

Determining the right restraint for your child

If your child is under six months of age

• They must travel in a rearward facing approved child restraint

If your child is six months to four years old, then it comes down to their size

• They must travel in either a forward facing or rearward facing approved child restraint

• The deciding factor will be your child’s size

If your child is aged between four and seven years old, then it comes down to their size

• They should travel in either a forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness, or:

• They should travel in an approved booster# seat

o The deciding factor will be your child’s size

If your child is aged between seven and 16 years old, then it comes down to their size

• They should travel in an approved booster# seat, or:

• They should travel using an adult seatbelt

o The deciding factor will be your child’s size

If your child is aged 16 years or over

• They should travel using an adult seatbelt

Note: a booster sear may be used with a child safety harness or a lap-sash.

If your child is too tall or too heavy for the restraint recommended for their age group

• In this case, road rules allow your child to use an approved restraint in the next age level category to them. However:

o The restraint must be the right size for your child (do see a professional restraint fitter if you are unsure)

o The restraint must be properly adjusted and fastened

o The restraint must be correctly fitted to the vehicle

Australian and New Zealand Standards

Insofar as Victoria is concerned, approved child restraints, approved booster seats and approved child safety harnesses comply with the 1995, 2000, 2004 or 2010 versions of the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754.

What is CREP?

CREP stands for Child Restraint Evaluation Program, and it is essentially a body of independent information about the level of protection from injury provided by child restraints. In addition CREP details just how easy it can be to use a child restraint. The online resource is supported by VicRoads, RACV and TAC in Victoria.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is a method of attaching a child restraint to your actual vehicle, without using a seatbelt. ISOFIX compatible child restraints have connectors that attach to ISOFIX anchors (in cars that have installed ISOFIX anchors). These child restraints also come with a top tether strap – it is obligatory to use this strap as well. In short – ISOFIX compatible child restraints give you an alternative option to using a seatbelt.

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