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Report highlights need for child restraints in cars



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1 February 1993

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR CHILD RESTRAINTS IN CARS

Young children in the centre seat of cars need extra protection, according to a report released today.

Federal Land Transport Minister, Bob Brown said the report, The Child in the Centre Seat, prepared by a team of researchers from the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), was commissioned by the Federal Office of Road Safety to discover whether children were more at risk in the centre-back seat of a vehicle than in other seating

positions.

The study found that lap-only belts were likely to cause twice as many injuries to children in car crashes than lap-sash belts in the outer seating positions.

'The most important conclusion is that while lap belts are less effective than lap-sash belts, risks are far greater for people wearing no belt at all: lap belts should always be used if no better restraint is available', Mr Brown said.

'Parents need to realize that, while the number of people injured by seat belts is very low, it is quite clear that lap belt related injuries to children can be reduced by using a child harness or child seat.

'These devices are readily available from most major retail stores and can be easily fitted using special anchorage points provided in all vehicles built after 1977.'

The report identifies the incidence, nature and severity of injuries to children wearing lap belts in the centre-front and centre-rear of passenger cars, compared with other seating positions.

'The Federal Office of Road Safety will shortly be undertaking a campaign to increase public awareness of the benefits of child harnesses and other devices that keep children secure in a crash', Mr Brown said.

'One surprising finding of this report was that the majority of people injured by lap belts in the centre rear seat were adults, not children.'

The report also recommends investigating options for fitting lap-sash belts in the centre-rear seat, although noticing that this might be difficult in vehicles such as hatchbacks and station wagons. ./2

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'Obviously we need to discuss the findings of this report with vehicle manufacturers to consider how cost-effective improvements can be incorporated in new vehicles to overcome these problems', Mr Brown said.

'This report is part of the Federal Office of Road Safety's ongoing Occupant Protection Program which recently saw the introduction of a new Australian Design Rule which will see airbags in the majority of passenger cars by the mid 1990's.'

Media inquiries: Veronika Cousens (06) 274 7612 Minister's office: Gary Kent (06) 277 7440