Infants and preschoolers

Child laughing

Keeping your infants and children safe

Vulnerable and easily distracted, children are dependent on us to protect and teach them safe habits around vehicles. Below you’ll find helpful advice to help protect children from the everyday risks of vehicles and the road.

CarSense – child safety in and around motor vehicles

What is CarSense and how will it help?

CarSense addresses the dangers of leaving kids alone in or near cars by reinforcing the message: 'Keep kids safe. Keep them with you'.

The goal of the program is to educate caregivers, providing them with information so that kids are not inadvertently placed in harm's way. This includes driveway safety, the hot summer months where kids can very quickly overheat in a car, and ensuring they’re secured correctly in an approved restraint.

Making driveways safer for children

Tragically, on average, one child is run over in their driveway every week in Australia. In the time it takes for the driver to say goodbye and start the car, a child may have moved from a safe position into the path of the vehicle. Small children in particular can be very hard to see from inside a car, especially if they’re behind it.

The rear vision of a number of popular cars has been tested and results show that there is not just a blind spot but in fact a large blind space behind most cars. Even if your car has parking sensors or a video camera fitted, you may not notice a small child until it‘s too late.

The below is an index of the vehicle reversing visibility of some popular vehicles.

The NRMA insurance reversing visibility index

 Star rating*  Vehicle
 5 and 4.5 stars  Ford Territory with OEM Camera, Lexus RX350 with OEM Camera
 4 and 3.5 stars  Proton Savvy with OEM Sensors, Honda Jazz
 3 and 2.5 stars  Holden Astra, VW Polo (hatch)
 2 and 1.5 stars  Mitsubishi Outlander, Audi A3 with OEM Sensors
 1 and 0 stars  Subaru Liberty, Toyota RAV4

*The greater the number of stars, the safer the reversing rating.

In a NRMA insurance study, the reversing visibility of more than 80 popular vehicles were assessed.

Prevention

A driveway should be treated as a small road, and discouraged as a play area. Keep a close eye on children whenever a vehicle is to be moved – hold them close to keep them safe. If you need to move a vehicle but you're the only adult at home, place children securely in the vehicle with you while you move it. Restrict child access to the driveway from the house, possibly using security doors, fencing or gates.

There's no substitute for supervision, though you may consider purchasing a device to assist with the awareness at the rear of your vehicle. You can find consumer tips available on the State Insurance Regulatory Authority website.

The facts

  • More than a third of motor vehicle incidents that claim the lives of pedestrians under the age of six occur in yards, carparks and driveways
  • Children under the age of three are the most likely to be injured or killed in home driveways, often by a reversing vehicle driven by a parent, relative or friend
    Of the children who are not killed, many sustain severe and permanent injuries
  • Even when drivers use mirrors while reversing, visibility behind a vehicle is limited

Kids in hot cars

Never leave children alone in a car

After rescuing many children from locked cars each summer, we are always urging parents not to leave children locked in cars. On a typical 30°C Australian summer day, the temperature inside the can reach more than double that of the outside temperature.

Facts

  • 75% of the temperature increase occurs within five minutes of closing the car
  • Large cars can heat up just as fast as small cars
  • On a 30°C day, having the windows down will only decrease the temperature slightly – Research shows that the inside of a car can reach 78°C in a closed car and 70°C in a car with open windows

The risks

  • The humidity inside the car begin to increase, while the airflow decreases
  • As the temperature increases inside the car, the child can begin to develop heat stress and dehydration
  • Young children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults. This can put them at greater risk of heat stroke and other health risks
  • If the child becomes distressed and tries to get out of their restraint, they could be at risk of strangulation on the harness

Prevention

  • Do not leave children in the car for any period of time without adult supervision
  • If you must leave the car, take the children with you, even to run a quick errand
  • Provide plenty of cool water or fluids regularly during your journey
  • Dress children in lightweight fabrics and light colours
  • When planning long journeys, especially with small children, consider travelling in the cooler hours of the day
  • Plan to stop every two hours so all passengers, including babies, have an opportunity to move freely
  • In summer when children are wearing lightweight clothing, restraints and harnesses may need to be adjusted
  • For rearward facing restraints, it is not recommended that you use a sun protection hood as it can reduce the airflow around the baby's head, leading to overheating. A visor or sunshade is a safer alternative
  • Take the time to check your children's safety by rechecking the fit of their harnesses on every trip, short or long

Choosing the right child restraint

All children up to the age of seven must be in the correct restraint for their age. The penalty for not having a child in the correct restraint is $298 and three demerit points. More information on NSW child restraint laws.

NSW child restraint laws:

  • 0 to 6 months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint
  • 6 months to 4 years must be in a rearward or forward facing restraint
  • 4 to 7 years much be in a forward facing restraint or booster seat

We offer free* child restraint installation for Premium Care and Premium Plus Members.

*Special accessories are not included. Some terms and conditions apply.

Types of restraints:

  • Rearward facing restraint
  • Forward facing restraint
  • Convertible restraint
  • Booster seat
  • ISOFIX

The child restraint safety rating

The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) gives parents ease of use and safety ratings on individual child restraints.

  • Child restrains are designed to match a child's age and size
  • All child restraints sold in Australia must comply with the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754

View the CREP child car seat buying guide.

Tips for the correct use of a child restraint:

  • Check that straps and belts are not twisted
  • Listen for the click when buckling your child in
  • Fit the harness firmly – only two fingers should fit between your child and the harness

Want to learn more?

The CarSense program aims to educate caregivers in child safety in and around motor vehicles.