Childcare in transit – Keeping our children safe in cars

As stated by the NSW Government Centre for Road Safety, “A child who is properly secured in an approved child car seat is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than one who is not.”

The Transport for NSW page also emphasises the importance that every child travelling by car is safely fastened into the correct car seat for their age and size. For the safest choice, they recommend the Child Car Seats website, which will let you find and compare the best options for you and your child.

What does the national law state about child car seats?

  • Up to 6 months, your child must be in a rear-facing, approved seat
  • From 6 months to 4 years the seat may be rear or forward facing with an inbuilt harness
  • Children under four are not permitted to travel in the front seat of a vehicle with 2 or more rows (anything with back seats available)
  • Children 4 to 7 years must be in a forward facing seat with inbuilt harness, or on a booster seat
  • 4 to 7-year-olds are not permitted to travel in the front seat of a vehicle with 2 or more rows (unless the back is occupied with younger ones in seats)
  • 7 to 16s too small to be safely restrained by a belt should use a booster
  • All children on booster seats must still use a properly fastened lap and sash style seatbelt or other approved harness
  • Variations in size and weight must be sensibly considered when choosing the appropriate safety seats and harnesses. An age level up or down is sometimes deemed necessary.

Always remember to use approved safety seats and follow manufacturers fitting and usage guidelines.

When is the best time to change to a forward facing seat?

Legally you can change to a forward facing seat once your child is over 6 months of age, but experts are now urging parents to keep their young children in rear-facing restraints for as long as is possible and practical.

So, when can they sit up front?

Experts recommend that children stay in the back seat until they are at least 12. Unfortunately, the risk of injury to under 12s is nearly double in the front, compared to the back seat, regardless of the type of seatbelt or restraint.

If you have back seats it is illegal for under 4s to sit in the front, and children 4-7 can only sit in the front if the back seats are taken by younger children.

Over seven it is legal as long as an approved booster seat and belt is used.

How can I tell if it’s an approved seat?

To be legally used in Australia and to comply with Australian standards, car seats cannot be purchased overseas.

Approved seats and boosters must display an Australian Standards sticker ‘AS/NZS 1754’.

To find out more, contact your car seat manufacturer or local authority.

At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres in NSW, we teach essential awareness on many safety issues that can affect the children within our care, and the families within our community.