If you are a young parent and you have an unsettled baby on the way home from a family gathering, it’s more than tempting to have someone hold them in order to soothe them.
However convenient this might be though, taking a baby out of their car seat could see you get busted by the cops for breaking child seat belt laws particularly if they are brought into the front seats.
The laws are designed to keep children safe in case of an accident. So just what parents need to know about the matter?
A matter of safety
The rules surrounding child seating in vehicles are designed with one focus in mind: to keep the child safe whenever a car is moving on the roads.
It’s why there is a rule in the Australian Road Rules that forbids children from sitting in the front seat of a vehicle when aged under 12 and that children under the age of seven must be in a child booster seat.
Rule 266 states that babies under the age of six months must be in a rear-facing child seat and that it is secured properly in the rear of the vehicle.
From six months up and onwards, a child can sit facing forward as long as they have a three-point harness to secure them safely while the car is in motion.
The key thing to note though is that children cannot be in the front seats of any vehicle that has two rows of seats or more making it illegal for parents to hold a child in the front passenger seat.
There is an exception to the rule and police will give leeway if the infant or baby is being held for medical reasons and that the parents have a certificate from a doctor to prove this.
No compromising child safety
Should the police catch anyone holding their kids in the front seats without an exemption, they could find themselves being given both fines and demerit points for their troubles.
The rule has been adopted by all states across Australia and they all have fairly hefty penalties for anyone deemed to be putting their kids at risk. These penalties include:
NSW: Offending parties in New South Wales find themselves contending with several hefty penalties as the driver will be given three demerit points as well as a $346 fine.
VIC: In Victoria, parents could face harsh penalties for breaking these rules as they will be given a $409 fine as well as three demerit points to whoever is driving the vehicle.
QLD: Anyone in Queensland found with young kids in the front seat could be in for a shock. They will be given a fine of $413, with three demerit points added to the licence of whoever is driving the vehicle.
SA: South Australian authorities take zero tolerance towards children who aren’t restrained properly. If the offence just involves one child, then the driver receives a $395 fine and three demerit points to their licence. However, if more than one child is found to be improperly restrained, then the fine increases to $469 and the driver receives a whopping five points on their licence.
WA: Western Australia has several penalties for those not restrained properly in a vehicle. If a driver has an unrestrained passenger (including young kids), the penalty is four demerit points and a fine of $550. The fine can increase further to between $600 and $800 depending on the number of people breaking the rules. Should a parent or other adult passenger be breaking the rules to deal with their child, they too face a fine of $550.
TAS: If you drive in Tasmania with a child under four in the front seat, you will be given a fine of $389 and be given three demerit points for your troubles.
ACT: When driving in Canberra, you could be issued a fine of $509 and given four demerit points if your child is not restrained properly within your vehicle.
NT: The Northern Territory takes a tough stance towards driving with unsecured children with offenders given a fine of $500 and three demerit points if caught by the cops.
As you can see, the authorities take no chances when it comes to ensuring children are safely secured when a vehicle is moving on the road.
It’s worth taking this into consideration when your young baby is unsettled on the road and taking measures to ensure your child is always safe and secure when driving.
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