Seatbelts, other restraints and animals Lessons Note

All persons in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt or appropriate restraint (including pregnant women and children).

Seatbelts increase the survival-rate for drivers and passengers. In a crash, the seatbelt slows your body down and distributes the crash forces to strong parts of your body.

Make sure that your seatbelt is properly fastened. Unrestrained people are often thrown out of the car or thrown around inside - resulting in serious or fatal injuries.

This could happen if you don't wear a seatbelt

It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are, you never know who is behind the wheel of an oncoming vehicle or what situations may arise. You may be hit by a drunk driver running a red light, or be forced off the road.

A majority of all crashes happen on short trips - so wear a seatbelt even if only travelling a short distance.

Wearing a seatbelt

The driver is responsible for the restraint of all passengers. Penalties include fines and demerit points for the driver, and fines for passengers over 16 years old that aren’t wearing a seatbelt.

There must be only one person for each seating position (and one seatbelt for each person). Seatbelts must be securely fastened and properly adjusted at all times. It’s also dangerous and illegal to drive with unrestrained passengers in the boot.

Using a seatbelt

Seatbelts are the most effective when they:

  • Are flat - i.e. have no turns or twists
  • Are firm - remove any slack
  • Are placed below your hips, which secures your bodyweight fully

In a crash, incorrectly worn seatbelts may cause neck, chest and abdominal injuries.

Additionally:

  • Pregnant women must be properly fastened and adjusted with care taken to protect the baby. The lap part of the belt should be across the hips and below the baby.
  • Never share your seatbelt with a child! Your weight could crush them in a crash or during heavy braking
  • Never carry a child in your arms as they could be crushed, thrown around or thrown out of the vehicle in a crash

If your vehicle is involved in a severe crash, you should replace the entire seatbelt assembly as it can be damaged and not function properly.

Child restraints

Seatbelts are not designed to protect small bodies. Children, therefore, need restraints that accurately fit their size and shape:

Age less than 6 months old:

  • approved rearward facing restraint device

Between 6 months and 12 months old:

  • approved rearward facing or forward-facing restraint
  • must not be in the front (if there is more than 1 row of seats in the car)

Between 12 months and less than 4 years old:

  • approved forward-facing restraint
  • must not be in the front (if there is more than 1 row of seats in the car)

Between 4 and 7 years old:

  • approved forward-facing restraint or booster seat
  • must not be in the front unless passengers of an age less than 7 occupy all seats in the rows behind

Between 7 and 16 years old:

  • must use a seatbelt or an approved child restraint.

As children differ in size, they may be too small or large for a specified restraint - Use a restraint that fits your child and change when necessary.

Place your child in the back seat

The safest place for a child to sit is in the back seat. Passengers below 7 aren’t allowed to travel in the front seat if there is no seatbelt or child restraint available - it doesn’t matter if the back seat is already full.

A rearward facing restraint isn't allowed in the front seat if there is a passenger airbag. Forward-facing restraints or booster seats are allowed in the front seats but should be used with the seat pushed as far back from the dashboard as is possible.

Australian Standard child restraints

Purchase a child restraint that meets the Australian Standard AS/NZS1754. A booster seat must be combined with an approved lap-sash seatbelt or an approved child safety harness.

In Taxis

Taxis carrying unrestrained passengers under 16 will be fined and incur demerit points. If the unrestrained passenger is over 16, he or she will also receive a fine.

Children under 12 months must use a suitable child restraint in a taxi. Keep this in mind when booking a taxi.

Seatbelt exemptions:

Medical conditions - If a doctor’s certificate states that you cannot wear a seatbelt due to a medical condition or body shape.

Reversing - A seatbelt isn't necessary for the driver reversing a vehicle (sometimes a driver needs to move the entire body to see properly).

Animals

Road users with moving vehicles may not lead animals, and any animals in the vehicle must be housed or seated in appropriate areas. A driver isn't allowed to drive with an animal in the lap.

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