Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Isabelle Regulation

Today, the NSW government announced new safety rules - dubbed Isabelle's regulations - that mean children aged up to seven will have to be strapped into car restraints.

Child seatbelt laws overhauled in NSW

4/11/2009 2:56:00 PM
Child seatbelt laws in NSW are set to be overhauled from early next year in a bid to reduce the number of children injured and killed on the state's roads.

As revealed in the Mercury today, State Cabinet has approved new vehicle restraint laws affecting children up to the age of seven.

At present, only children up to 12 months old must be restrained in an approved seat in NSW.

But NSW Premier Nathan Rees and NSW Transport Minister David Campbell today revealed that, from March, children between six months and four years will have to be secured in a rear-or forward-facing restraint.
Those aged four to seven will have to sit in a forward-facing child restraint.
Other changes include:

  • Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows

  • Children between the ages of four and seven cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.

    NSW Premier Nathan Rees said the changes were about saving children's lives.
    "We can always do more to reduce the road toll, to reduce the tragedy and the impact on loved ones that comes from those deaths on the roads," Mr Rees said.
    Under the national guidelines, a rear-facing capsule is required for babies aged up to at least six months, a child restraint seat with an inbuilt harness for those between six months and up to at least four years of age, and a booster seat for children aged between four and seven.

    It is understood there will be a period of grace until fines for non-compliance are imposed and a minimum age may be set for children sitting in the front seat.
    Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria have already said they will apply the national standards.

    In March 2008 then Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal indicated he would toughen laws in NSW, but neither he nor subsequent minister Michael Daley succeeded in doing so.
    In Australia, 500 children up to the age of 10 are killed or seriously injured every year in car accidents, with 2300 sustaining minor injuries.

    Some medical studies have suggested the premature graduation of children into adult seat belts increases the risk of injury or death in an accident.

    Mt St Thomas parents Noel and Danielle Broadhead, whose three-year-old daughter Isabelle died due to seatbelt injuries sustained in a low-speed car accident in 2006 at Mt Kembla, have been prominent campaigners for the law changes.

    They were unhappy with the State Government's progress.

    But when contacted by the Mercury yesterday, Mr Broadhead praised the swift action of Mr Campbell, Minister for the Illawarra and Minister for Transport, who took added responsibility for roads in September.

    Mr Broadhead believes Isabelle would have survived the accident had she been in a seat with an inbuilt harness.

    "In all likelihood she would not have suffered such serious injury because the force would have been spread across the seat," he said.
    "She probably would have walked away like her sister."
    Mr Broadhead said he and his wife, Danielle, had pushed for new state legislation to honour their daughter's memory.
    Seats can be bought for about $90, which Mr Broadhead said was a small price for saving a life.

    "We don't want to be the parents who find out someone else has died for the same reason as Isabelle," Mr Broadhead said.

    "We know how it feels and we wouldn't want anybody else to feel it."

    Illawarra Mercury


    Demara said...

    Wow! This is great news...

    I know here the laws changed just last year or the year before so that children under 9 yrs old must be in a booster seat with seat belt unless they are over 5 feet tall!! Regardless where they are in the vehicle.

    Unknown said...

    Great news to all!!

    Unknown said...

    By the way that comment was from June Garcia! ha!