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Has increasing the age for child passengers to wear child restraints improved the extent to which they are used? Results from an Australian focus group and survey study.

By Alexia J. Lennon

Abstract

Acknowledgement that many children in Australia travel in restraints that do not offer them the best protection has led to recent changes in legislation such that the type of restraint for children under 7 years is now specified. This paper reports the results of two studies (observational; focus group/ survey) carried out in the state of Queensland to evaluate the effectiveness of these changes to the legislation. Observations suggested that almost all of the children estimated as aged 0-12 years were restrained (95%). Analysis of the type of restraint used for target-aged children (0-6 year olds) suggests that the proportion using an age-appropriate restraint has increased by an estimated 7% since enactment of the legislation. However, around 1 in 4 children estimated as aged under 7 years were using restraints too large for good fit. Results from the survey and focus group suggested parents were supportive of the changes in legislation. Non-Indigenous parents agreed that the changes had been necessary, were effective at getting children into the right restraints, were easy to understand as well as making it clear what restraint to use with children. Moreover, they did not see the legislation as too complicated or too hard to comply with. Indigenous parents who participated in a focus group also regarded the legislation as improving children’s safety. However, they identified the cost of restraints as an important barrier to compliance. In summary, the legislation appears to have had a positive effect on compliance levels and on raising parental awareness of the need to restrain children child-specific restraints for longer. However, it would seem that an important minority of parents transition their children into larger restraints too early for optimal protection. Intervention efforts should aim to better inform these parents about appropriate ages for transition, especially from forward facing childseats. This could potentially be through use of other important transitions that occur at the same age, such as starting school. The small proportion of parents who do not restrain their children at all are also an important community sector to target. Finally, obtaining restraints presents a significant barrier to compliance for parents on limited incomes and interventions are needed to address this

Topics: 111712 Health Promotion, 170113 Social and Community Psychology, road safety, vehicle passengers, child restraints, evaluation, legislation
Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.3402/vgi.v3i0.14975
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:48813
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