Child Car Seat Safety System
NZ Transport Agency governs the rules and sets standards for the health and safety aspects with respect to child restraints in New Zealand. Their guidelines dictate the minimum legal requirements for a New Zealand vehicle from the safety perspective. The correct fitting of a car seat can protect individuals and can be a lifesaver. This page provides details on qualified seat installation processes and approved standardized marks to look out for in child restraints. The Agency trains and certifies NZTA certified child restraint technicians who are authorized to install child safety seats.
All child restraints must meet the standards set by the NZ Transport Agency. There are different marks to indicate this approval from the safety perspective. Approved marks/symbols are shown in the table below:
Crashes that meet all of these criteria are much less severe than the dynamic testing requirement for compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 and are highly unlikely to affect future child safety seat performance.
All child restraints have an expiration date. Seats can expire 6 years from the date of manufacture, although this can vary by manufacturer. Expiration dates are highly debated, with proponents and manufacturers claiming that older car seats can degrade over time to be less effective and that changing laws and regulations necessitate an expiration date. Opponents argue that it is simply for their legal protection and to sell more car seats, and point out that manufacturers have noted that the plastics in most car seats long outlast the expiration date. As ageing is due to temperature swings and UV-light, a seat ages faster in a car than in a cool, dark cellar.
'Infant carrier' means a restraint system intended to accommodate the child in a rearward-facing semi-recumbent position. This design distributes the restraining forces over the child's head and body, excluding its limbs, in the event of the frontal collision.
Convertible seats can be used throughout many stages. Many convertible seats will transition from a rear-facing seat, to a forward-facing seat, and some then can be used as a booster seat. Many convertible seats allow for 2.3–18 kg (5-40 lb.) rear-facing, allowing children to be in the safer rear-facing position up to a weight of 18 kg (40 lbs).
There are two main types of boosters: high back (some of which have energy absorbing foam) and no back. A new generation of booster seats comes with rigid Isofix (Latch) connectors that secure to the vehicle's anchors, improving the seat's stability in the event of a collision.
A safety seat increases the safety of a properly restrained child in the case of a motor vehicle accident. The safety seat includes foam padding, fabric covers, a harness, and buckles or attaching mechanisms. Labels and instructions are also attached. Every child safety seat will have an expiration date on it. The Safe Kids USA organization does not recommend using a child safety seat that is more than 6 years old. Periodically, child safety seats are recalled by manufacturers for safety reasons. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posts a link to recent recall information at nhtsa.gov.