Background New Zealand’s rate of child motor vehicle occupant injury is high by international comparisons. A plethora of research and science has repeatedly stated the safety benefits of keeping children in booster seats until they reach 148cm in height. In New Zealand ( prior to 2013) there was no legislation that mandated the use of child restraints beyond the fifth birthday; consequently children were prematurely graduated to adult safety belts and exposed to unnecessary injury risk.
Description of Problem In July 2009, Safekids launched a multi-pronged, two year campaign to promote regulation change, education and public awareness of the safety benefits of booster seats up to 148cm tall. Key activities included:
The creation of a solid base of evidence
The instigation of a national advocacy project to influence government strategy
The delivery of a series of capacity building workshops
The development of creatives to support a nation-wide public awareness campaign.
Results Key findings included:
Utility and value of the Safekids Campaign: 95 percent of e-survey respondents utilised the Campaign to support local action, 83 percent found the key message effective to very effective and 96 percent of respondents found the resources effective to very effective.
Reaching communities: of 100 e-survey respondents, 64 percent primarily worked with indigenous peoples. 360,000 child vehicle passenger safety resources were distributed to areas identified as ‘communities at risk’.
Shifting attitudes: 77 percent of e-survey respondents felt that the Campaign had supported the adoption of safer practices. One third of parents interviewed reported that they would prolong their child’s use of a booster seat.
Organisational engagement included health services, educators, government and local government, Police and social support services.
Media responsiveness: 34 percent of all recorded media referred to Safekids’ NZ child passenger safety information and messaging.
Conclusions The New Zealand Government has now increased the age that children must use a child restraint to age 7years. Acceptance of the benefits of booster seats has grown; The Safekids Campaign was also awarded the Traffic Institute of New Zealand (TRAFINZ) leadership award in 2011, which recognises innovation and excellence in contributing to the safety of people on our roads.