Recommended Child Restraints
7 Years & Over
Booster seat or a correctly fitted seatbelt
Children aged 7 years to 16 years of age are required to travel in either an approved child restraint or a properly adjusted and securely fastened adult seatbelt. The type of restraint will depend on the child’s size. The average seven year old cannot fit an adult seatbelt correctly. In fact, most children cannot wear an adult seatbelt correctly in most vehicles until they are 10 to 12 years of age.
Vehicle seats and seatbelts are designed for adult bodies, so it is highly unlikely that your child will fit an adult seatbelt when he/she reaches their seventh birthday. A booster seat needs to be used until they can. Children that move into an adult seatbelt too early are twice as likely to suffer devastating injuries in a crash, including severe damage to the brain, liver, spleen, stomach and spinal cord.
Seatbelt fit will vary from vehicle to vehicle and even from position to position in the same vehicle.
Children who are not yet tall enough to use an adult seatbelt tend to slump into the vehicle seat so that their legs bend at the seat edge. This means that both the lap and sash part of the seatbelt will move up, sitting incorrectly on the child, which will increase the risk of more serious injury in a crash.
Lap-sash seatbelts offer greater protection to passengers than lap-only seatbelts, so try to always use a lap sash belt.
To find out if your child is ready to use an adult seatbelt, without a booster seat, try this simple three point test.
3 Point Test
- Does the sash part of the seatbelt sit on the middle of the shoulder and not touch the neck or face?
- Does the lap part of the seatbelt sit low down on the hips and not on the abdomen?
- When you sit the child on the seat with their bottom all the way back, are their thighs long enough for their knees to bend allowing the legs to hang over the front of the seat?
If you answered "NO" to any of these questions, your child needs to be in a booster seat to make both the sash and the lap part of the seatbelt fit right to ensure maximum crash protection.
If your child is not able to wear the seatbelt correctly and they have outgrown their current booster seat, then it may be possible to use a larger or taller booster seat. There are now several models of booster seats on the market that will accommodate children up to the height needed to wear the adult seatbelt correctly in most vehicles.
To download a fact sheet about when to move your child into an adult seatbelt, click here.
For individual advice, contact the RAA Safety Centre on 08 8202 4592 or via email.
Motoring & Road Safety