Incorrect use of child restraints

A research study funded by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has shown that children who are restrained incorrectly are up to seven times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than children who are restrained correctly.

If parents and carers are unsure about how to fit a child restraint, they should visit an authorised fitting station to have the restraint installed by an expert. Recent research funded by RMS has shown children whose parents used an Authorised Restraint Fitting Station are nearly two times more likely to be correctly restrained than those who haven’t used the fitting station.

Types of incorrect use

Other research funded by RMS found that:

  • Overall, approximately 60% of children were incorrectly restrained.
  • Not all incorrect use was likely to have significantly increased injury risk, with approximately two thirds of incorrect use having a moderate to severely increased risk of injury.
  • Children using dedicated child restraints were more likely to be incorrectly using their restraint (84%) than seatbelt users (25%).
  • Child safety harnesses had a particularly high rate of serious incorrect use (100%).
  • A child restraint can be incorrectly used in multiple ways simultaneously. For example a very loose harness is compounded if the child wriggles their arms out of the harness.
  • Errors in installation of restraints and in the manner in which restraints were used were common and often occurred together.

Video simulation of children unrestrained or incorrectly restrained

A baby unrestrained held in parent’s lap and a child with the sash belt placed under the arm.

A video showing consequences when child restraints are incorrectly used.