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Issue No. 374 October 2013

Concern for kids drives car seat checks

Constable Ian Scoulding and Delwyn Willetts, of Plunket, show how it should be done

A project to get children safely restrained in vehicles has brought clear results - and a sense of satisfaction.

In recent months McLaren Park Neighbourhood Policing Team in Auckland has run a dozen checkpoints.

In the first, they found a worrying number of children without a properly fitted restraint, or no restraint at all, says Constable Ian Scoulding, who initiated the project.

Realising that ticketing families made it harder for them to afford a proper restraint, Ian approached the local Plunket group, which sells or rents out restraints - usually for less than the $150 fine.

Plunket was keen to come on board and together they developed a system where families with incorrect restraints would get a ticket plus 14 days to fix the problem.

"If they went to Plunket, had the restraint correctly fitted and sent us a letter to confirm the work had been done, we waived the fine," says Ian. Around 80 percent of families took up the offer.

A Plunket representative shared her knowledge of restraints in a training session with staff and took part in checkpoints. Staff from the Henderson Strategic Traffic Unit, Youth Education and an iwi liaison officer also took part.

"We must have talked to more than 100 families, gave out more than 40 tickets and received no negative feedback. People understand we're not trying to make money, we're just concerned for their kids - it's hard to argue with that."

Ian says this is the most satisfying initiative he's been involved with. "At the last checkpoint, every family we stopped had the children correctly restrained. We can see the results of this work."

  • The rules around child restraints change on 1 November. Children will have to travel in an approved child restraint until their seventh birthday, rather than their fifth. Read more on the NZ Transport Agency website: www.nzta.govt.nz/childrestraints

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