Auckland Motorways Police are alarmed by the results of a recent ten day operation which has focused on education and enforcement of child restraints in motor vehicles.
Operation Safe Kids commenced on Monday 9 January 2012 and ended Thursday 19 January 2012. The operation was introduced as a result of a recent increase in the number of serious motor vehicle crashes where children have been the passengers. Crash data shows that in the majority of these cases the children were either inappropriately restrained or not restrained at all.
Over the ten days a number of checkpoints and mobile patrols were used to target the use of seatbelts and child restraints. While a number of offence notices were issued, the overall focus was on education which involved correctly fitting a large number of child restraints.
Police made the following discoveries while patrolling the motorways in Metropolitan Auckland:
• Most drivers spoken to about child restraints displayed some knowledge and the best intentions. But they failed to fully understand the minimum requirements in regards to the correct restraint and its installation.
• The number of young children who were found to be at risk by having an incorrectly fitted restraint or no restraint at all was “hugely disappointing.”
• Police observed three mothers that were breast feeding their infants whilst they were each driving a vehicle on the motorway. They were stopped and spoken to.
• Auckland Motorways Manager Inspector Shanan Gray says his officers were shocked by this. It puts everyone in an “extremely dangerous situation.”
• “If they had to stop their vehicle suddenly, or they were involved in a serious crash, the infant would surely be ejected from the vehicle,” he said.
• Police were further stunned by the number of small children that were discovered in foot wells or in the luggage boots of motor vehicles.
• Police discovered a new born infant in a capsule on the front seat of a vehicle that was fitted with an airbag. Even though there were extensive warnings in this vehicle the driver was oblivious to the dangers this poses to the child.
“The safest place for a child is in the back seat, until the child is at least ten years old as their bodies have not fully developed, so they are more susceptible to traumatic injury.”
“It’s essential that adults always wear their seatbelts as they are the role models to their children,” Inspector Gray said.
Information on the correct installation and use of child restraints is readily available from agencies such as Plunket and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
A new dedicated section on the NZTA website gives details about child restraints and keeping children safe when travelling by car. The site has information on legal requirements and safety standards on child restraints. The site can be found at: