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Seating positions and children's risk of dying in motor vehicle crashes
  1. Jan Shield
  1. Safety Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

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    Editor,—In an excellent report on the increased risk of injury to child front seat passengers in the event of a motor vehicle crash, authors Braver et al state “Only Luxembourg bans infants in rear facing restraints from front seats of vehicles with passenger airbags”.1 They continue “Australia requires top tether straps for restraints designed for infants weighing less than 9 kg, which in effect is a requirement for infants to be seated in the rear”.

    What the authors did not state, and may not have known, is that Australia requires top tether straps for both infant (under 9 kg) and toddler (9–18 kg) restraints. H-harnesses, designed for use with or without booster seats for children weighing up to 32 kg, also use a strap fixed to an anchorage point in the back seat. The latter two are forward facing. Although the law does not specify that child passengers cannot ride in the front seat, the anchoring mechanism, fitted in the rear compartment, makes the practice fairly universal, at least for young children. The anchor point is fitted into the vehicle at time of manufacture and every restraint is sold with an anchor bolt ready to fit into place after purchase.

    Some children do travel in front seats, against recommended practice. Perhaps the time has come for Australia to strengthen its already comprehensive child restraint laws in the light of this very useful research.


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