Under the law, children up to the age of seven, or under 1.48m in height, must be restrained in an appropriate car seat. PHOTO/FILE

14 of 15 vehicles stopped had unsafe children’s seats

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

A police check on the use of car seat restraints in Masterton found more than 90 per cent of children were not being strapped in safely.

Holly Hullena, a qualified car seat technician who was assisting police at a checkpoint last Wednesday, was surprised to find that children’s car seats were wrongly installed, or there was none for children under the age of seven in 14 of the 15 vehicles stopped in the first 30 minutes,

Under the law, children up to the age of seven, or under 1.48m in height, must be restrained in an appropriate car seat.

Every car seat must have an approved safety sticker, expiry date and must be complete.

Any infringement draws a $150 fine.

“As a driver, it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone in the car is safe and wearing the correct restraints,” Hullena said.

She said excuses people gave ranged from, “Oh it’s just a short journey” to “My sister has the car seat because she usually picks them up”.

Rather than infringement notices, police issued compliance notices to give the drivers time to fix the problem and get it checked by a qualified car seat technician.

Hullena said the police checkpoints were not about gathering fines but promoting safe practices.

“It is all about preventing fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.

“The thing is you may take all the precautions to stay safe, but you never know who you are sharing the road with.

“As a mum reaching out to other mums and family members, it’s just not worth it.”

At a similar checkpoint near Masterton Primary School in October, 11 cars were stopped with police issuing three tickets.

“[That’s] still too high a number,” Hullena said.

A police spokesperson said where a child restraint was not appropriate for the child, the officer would issue an infringement notice “offering compliance”.

To meet the conditions of compliance, the motorist can provide proof of purchase of an appropriate child restraint, or go to a station and show an officer the child seat has been purchased and is fitted correctly.

The fine is then waived.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council will run a free child restraint fitting clinic on December 6 at Masterton Plunket rooms on the corner of Bunny St and Worksop Rd.

To book a free car seat check go to wairoadsafetycouncil.simplybook.me/v2/ or call 06 377 1379.