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New parents have a lot to think about, and with so much information readily available online, it’s often overwhelming. But understanding car seats and how to use them correctly is arguably one of the most important things to know as a parent – anyone who has done it knows, there’s nothing quite like that first drive in the car with a newborn baby.

As road injury lawyers, we see clients who are living with the impacts of injuries sustained on the road, and advocate for public awareness of road safety across Australia. 

Importance of Car Seat Safety

Car seats are designed to protect children in the event of an accident. It’s estimated that using car seats properly reduces risk of fatal injury by 71% for babies and 54% for toddlers. Ensuring children are safely secured is one of the most important things you can do as parent.

There are additional benefits too: when children are secured safely there are fewer distractions for the driver, and car seats create a habit of wearing seatbelts from an early age which can contribute to long-term safety practices. 

Common risks and misconceptions

Even though public awareness of car seat safety has come along way in the last 40 years, there remains persistent myths and misconceptions.

A common one is that as long as children are buckled up, they are safe. However things like incorrect installation, or using the wrong seat for the child’s size can reduce the car seat’s effectiveness.

Australian safety standards for car seats

Car seats used in vehicles on Australian roads must be:

  • approved the AS/NZS 1754 standard
  • labelled with this approval and the year of issue
  • installed to manufacturers instructions
  • appropriate for your child’s size and age

Car seat laws in Australia

Babies under six months of age must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. This provides better support for children’s head and neck in the event of a serious accident.

Babies over six months but under four years old can be in a rear facing or forward facing car seat.

Children aged between four and seven years old must be in a forward facing car seat with an in-built harness or a booster seat with a seatbelt or a child safety harness.

Children between seven and 16 years old can sit forward facing in a booster seat with a seatbelt or child safety harness, depending on their size. Once they are taller than the minimum height of 145cm they can use an adult seatbelt. 

"It’s important to be guided by your child’s height rather than their age. The longer you can keep your baby or toddler rear-facing, the better, as this is a safer position to be in, if an accident occurs. It’s important to keep our children safe and not be in a hurry to move them to the next setting"


Penalties for breaching car seat laws

The laws around car seats are national, but enforced across states and territories. In each state, there are various penalties for not complying with the laws. For example:

Most importantly though, if child restraints are not installed correctly in vehicles or your child is not wearing a seatbelt, there is an increased risk of injury to the child. The last thing we want to do is put our children at risk of sustaining injuries.

In a claim, if there is a failure to wear a seatbelt, it is unlikely there would be a reduction in compensation for a child – the parent would wear this responsibility and be liable. A child would also still be eligible for a TAC claim should they not be wearing a belt. 

Was Bluey’s Mum correct?

In a recent episode of Bluey, Chilli is pulled over by police to question why seven-year-old Bluey was sitting in the front seat of the car. In this situation, all three of the back seats were seating Bluey’s younger sister Bingo, and cousins Muffin and Socks. Chilli explains that under Queensland law, a child aged 4-7 can sit in the front seat if all the other seats are occupied by children under 7 years old.

Is this true? Yes, but Transport Queensland are quick to point out that it’s only to be used when absolutely necessary: the safest place for children under 12 is always in the back seat, in a secure, approved car seat and seatbelt.

We all want our kids to be safe, and car seat safety is vitally important on the road. You can find more information at the links below:

Raising Children: Child car seats: choosing, installing and using safe car seats 

VicRoads: Seat belts and child restraints 

Transport Queensland: When to move child restraints 


If you or a loved one have been injured on the road, we can help.

Use our free claim check tool to find out if you have a claim, or contact us today to speak with one of our expert road accident lawyers.

Our expert road injury lawyers can help

Our specialist road injury lawyers are experienced in a range of claims related to road accident injuries. If you've been hurt on the road, we can help you understand your options. 

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

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