Holden recommends that children aged 12 years and under should ride in the rear seat of a vehicle, properly restrained. Research shows that children are safer if restrained in a rear seat.
This applies to an infant riding in a rear-facing capsule, a child riding in a forward-facing child seat, an older child riding in a booster seat and children large enough to wear a seat belt alone.
While research shows that children who were properly restrained have survived high-speed crashes with minor injuries or bruising, misuse of child restraints is responsible for a range of serious injuries.
Common misuses include placing a child in a seat which is inappropriate for that child's weight and height; not anchoring the seat tightly enough; not using top tethers; incorrectly threading seatbelts; loose, unbuckled, twisted and damaged seatbelts.
As the driver, you must make sure that any child under five years of age is properly restrained by an approved child restraint that is appropriate for the age and size of the child. They must not travel in the car if you can't put them in an approved child restraint. The vehicle's safety belt on its own is not an approved child restraint.
Approved child restraints include:
- infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)
- restraints for older babies, toddlers and preschool children (often called car seats)
- booster seats for preschool and school-aged children
- child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children
- All approved child restraints will display standard markings to show they have been approved (please see below for details)
If the child is aged five to seven years you must use an approved child restraint if there's one available and if it's appropriate for the child's age and size. Otherwise they must use a safety belt if one is available. If there are no child restraints or safety belts available, they must travel in the back seat.
Children aged 8 to 14 years must use a safety belt if one is available. Otherwise, they must travel in a back seat. Note: A child under 15 years old may sit beside the driver only if the child is restrained by a child restraint or safety belt (whichever is appropriate for their age and size). However, they are always safer in a back seat than in the front. For more information, visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/factsheets/07/child-restraints