A key motorists advocacy group has called for government funding of child restraints after findings revealed nearly a third of child deaths from motoring accidents could have been prevented.
The NRMA has made a public plea for the NSW government to finance car restraints for struggling families, finding children from disadvantaged backgrounds were “overrepresented” in crash statistics.
This comes after more than a quarter of surveyed motorists found child restraints to be more expensive than they were expecting, and two-thirds found the purchase stressful.
NRMA road safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros said three-quarters of respondents paid more than $200 for the safety apparatus, a hefty sum for low-income families.
“Families with more than one child may be under pressure to graduate children early out of the right-sized restraint and often into an adult seat belt, and this can put the child at risk in the event of a crash,” she said.
“This isn’t only about keeping babies safe.
“Children must be in an appropriate restraint until seven and beyond, which typically means families will need to buy two seats.”
Crash statistics also revealed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were disproportionately affected in road incidents.
“The NRMA is prepared to work with the NSW government and other community groups to ensure every parent is able to leave the hospital with their child in a suitable and properly fitted restraint,” Ms Vlahomitros said.
A review into the deaths of 66 children by the NSW Ombudsman found in 35 of the cases the child was not properly restrained.
This has led the NRMA to call on the government to establish free child restraint fittings and to make checks more accessible through local councils.
“Particularly in regional communities where there is an overrepresentation of road fatalities,” she said.