Child restraint technician Holly Hullena showing where to check car seats expiry dates. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

An “epidemic” of expired car seats for children has prompted the Wairarapa Road Safety Council to offer free checks and disposal of out-of-date seats.

The offer is open until Thursday, December 20, at the council’s offices at REAP at 340 Queen St.

Child restraint technician Holly Hullena says eight of 10 car seats she sees are either expired or close to expiry.

Using an expired seat can earn drivers a fine of $150.

“For Wairarapa, we have a huge increase in expired and incorrectly fitted car seats in vehicles,” Hullena said.

“Expired car seats are in particular a huge issue here as we have no rental service on our doorstep to assist in moderating this.

“With best intentions, people are known to give seats to family members or friends in goodwill, sell seats second hand online or drop them off to hospice and second-hand stores, but eight out of 10 seats have already expired, putting the next users at risk.”

Children up to the age of seven, or up to 1.48m tall, are required by law to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. “For it to be legal, it must meet manufacturer’s standards.”

Car seats expire after 6-10 years, depending on the model, with details sometimes hard to find on the back of seats.

Anyone wanting to check their seats can call into the Queen St offices where Hullena will check they are legal, and provide free disposal for expired seats.

Information on child restraints is available on the council’s website – www.wairsc.org.nz/services/child-restraints – or by calling Hullena on 06 377 1379.