Police say a week-long safety operation targeting correct use of seat belts and car restraints threw up some surprises.
"Public response to the checkpoints was very positive but people need to be more aware of correct seatbelt and restraint usage," says Sergeant Bud Butler, head of the Wellington District Traffic Alcohol Group.
"It was great to see so many seatbelts being worn and carseats fitted. "However, we were disappointed that many carseats were not properly secured or their ten-year safety lifespan had expired.
"We were also concerned to see several small children seated or straddled unrestrained across the central console of vehicles, or children who were in seats that were too big or too small for them.
"One driver was not wearing a seatbelt and his wife was in the back seat breastfeeding an unrestrained baby," he says. "If this car had to stop suddenly the baby could have been killed or seriously injured."
Nearly 5000 vehicles went through the eight checkpoints staged in Porirua, Upper Hutt, Taita, Naenae, Johnsonville and Strathmore last week as part of New Zealand Safety Week. Eight hundred vehicles were checked for child restraints and 23 infringement notices issued for non compliance.
Sergeant Butler urges parents and caregivers to ensure carseats are correctly fitted, including the correct use of tether straps and anchor bolts.
"Carseats must be well anchored if they're to keep kids safe," he says. "A surprising number of people don't know how to securely fit them properly."
Police encourage people to read carseat installation information, or to seek advice from agencies like Plunket.
Sergeant Butler says drivers stopped at last week's checkpoints appreciated the advice they were given by Plunket, ACC and council road safety staff.
Police also caught several disqualified drivers, an intoxicated driver, arrested another for drug and driving offences, and issued several infringement offences.
The Safety Week campaign also coincided with the 21st anniversary of SADD - Students Against Drunk Driving. The Police TAG staff, along with other emergency services and road safety partners went to a special breakfast celebration for the Wairarapa branch of SADD in Masterton.
Other Safety Week initiatives included Traffic Alcohol Group's 'Drive Well' road safety campaign to the Kapiti SADD branch. This interactive programme developed by police and ACC includes:
• a presentation outlining drink driving, drug impaired drivers, driver fatigue, the importance of driving to the conditions, driver licence conditions and the boy racer legislation.
• taking students inside the Traffic Alcohol Group bus, demonstrating the breath testing equipment and discussing drive drive processes
• patrolling local areas so that students can see first hand driver speed and behaviour.
"Both visits were very successful," Sergeant Butler says. "Kapiti Mana strategic traffic units and serious crash investigators helped out in Kapiti.
"After our presentation we ran a checkpoint, caught three intoxicated drivers and arrested another under the boy racer legislation for sustained loss of traction. SADD members worked with us, handing out chocolates and thank you cards to good drivers.
"The students enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside police and help put safety messages into action.
"Enforcement and education works hand in hand. Today's students are our driving future."