Children

children are killed or seriously injured each year when the vehicle they are travelling in is involved in crash.

years (and over) is the age when a child can be restrained in an adult seatbelt or booster seat.

Frequently asked questions about child passengers

When do these laws come into effect?

These new regulations are enforceable in WA from 27 June 2018.

At what age can children travel in the front seat of the car?

The laws states that a child under four years of age must not travel in the front seat of a car that has more than one row of seats.

If there is only one row of seats, make sure that the child seat is moved back as far as possible and is not directly in front of an air bag.

If the child is aged over four but under seven, the child can travel in the front seat if all other rear seats are filled with passengers aged under seven.

What are the new rules regarding children travelling in taxis?

Under the new regulations from 27 June 2018 taxi drivers must ensure that children aged between one and seven are restrained in standard adults seatbelts if:
  • there is no suitable approved child seat available in the taxi for the passenger; and
  • the child passenger is not in the front row of seats where the taxi has two or more rows of seats.

Any adult seatbelts used for children aged one to seven must be:
  • properly adjusted; and
  • securely fastened to the best extent possible given the height and weight of the passengers. 

Taxis have always had an exemption to the requirement to use a child car restraint, but taxi drivers have a new responsibility for ensuring passengers aged between one and seven are restrained as safely as possible.

Children aged under one can be held on a lap of a person aged 16 or over, or restrained in a seat, according to the judgment of their caregiver. The safest seating is in a child car seat.

Notwithstanding these exemptions, the Road Safety Commission strongly recommends ensuring a child car seat is available when the taxi is booked. 

Do children need child seats in buses?

Bus drivers are not required to ensure that passengers aged under 16 years are restrained. Under the Road Traffic Code 2000, a bus is defined as a motor vehicle, built mainly to carry people, which seats over 11 adults (including the driver). Nonetheless, it is recommended that seatbelts are used and are properly adjusted and fitted to the best extent possible.

If the vehicle involved is designed to carry 11 adults or less (including the driver) it is not classed as a bus and the driver is required to ensure that all passengers are appropriately restrained.

From 27 June 2018 onwards the driver is responsible for ensuring passengers aged one to seven are:
 
  • restrained with standard seatbelts that are properly adjusted; and
  • securely fastened to the best extent possible given the height and weight of the passengers.

Children aged under one can be held on a lap of a person aged 16 or over, or restrained in a seat, according to the judgment of their caregiver. The safest option is a child car seat.

Do children need child seats in Uber or other on demand transport?

Drivers in on demand transport require omnibus licences in WA. Under this licence type, there is no requirement for the driver to ensure the use of child car seats in charter vehicles seating 11 people or fewer. Nonetheless, child car seats are strongly recommended for the safety of the child.

However, from 27 June 2018 onwards the driver is responsible for ensuring passengers aged one to seven are restrained with adult seatbelts that are:
 
  • properly adjusted; and
  • securely fastened to the best extent possible given the height and weight of the passengers.

Children aged under one can be held on a lap of a person aged 16 or over, or restrained in a seat, according to the judgment of their caregiver.

Do children need child seats in tow trucks?

Under the new legislation, caregivers may bring infants with them if their vehicle is towed.

Children aged under one can be held on the lap of a person aged 16 or over, or restrained in a seat, according to the judgment of their caregiver.  The safest seating is in a child car restraint.

Children aged between one and seven cannot be transported in a tow truck unless a child car seat is available.

Is a child allowed in the front seat of a truck?

Children under four can't be in the front passenger seat if there are two or more rows of seats. That is to say, a child under four may only be in the front row if there is only one row of seats.

If the child is aged over four but under seven, they cannot be in the front passenger seat unless all the other seats are taken up by passengers under the age of seven, or unless they are in a vehicle with only one row of seats.  This applies only if the rear seats are suitable for the installation of a child car seat. 

Can a child be restrained in a booster seat with a lap only belt?

Under the new regulations, from 27 June 2018 children aged between four and seven must be placed in a properly positioned booster seat and restrained by either:
 
  • A lap and sash seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fitted; or
  • A lap only type seatbelt and (in relation to the upper body of the passenger) a child safety harness, each of which is properly adjusted and fastened.

This amendment brings the law in line with the requirement of AS/NZS1754 by requiring a booster seat to be used together with either an approved seatbelt comprising a lap and sash belt or an approved child safety harness.

Do children need to be restrained in slow moving, frequently stopping vehicles?

Regulation 235(6) states that people who are required to frequently get into and out of a slow moving vehicle, such as door to door delivery or collection of garbage, may be exempt from wearing a seatbelt if the vehicle does not exceed 25km/h. 

However, this defence does not apply to passengers aged under seven years.

Child car restraints

To find the correct car restraint for your child, use the child car restraints calculator.

For child car restraint queries you may contact RoadWise on 1300 780 713.

Child road safety programs

School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA), supported by the Road Safety Commission, works to help children and young people from 0 to 20 years stay safe on the roads.

  • Smart Steps is an early intervention program that sets the scene for developing positive road safety attitudes and behaviours in young children.
  • Challenges and Choices is a program of multi-media teaching resources for Kindergarten through to Year 10.
  • Keys for Life prepares Year 10 to 12 students for safer driving. The program is an important part of the road safety strategy as young drivers are over-represented in road crash statistics each year.
  • Whole School Approach recognises that all aspects of the school community can impact positively upon students' health, safety and wellbeing.
  • The Changing Health Acting Together (CHAT) program offers intensive, step-by-step support to develop a best practice whole-school approach to resilience, drug and road safety education.
 

Children as pedestrians

Children’s vulnerability as road users is centred around their cognitive and perceptual abilities which are not fully developed until young adulthood.

Children are at risk on the roads because they:

  • are small and can’t see over parked cars and can’t be seen easily by drivers.
  • are energetic and have trouble stopping at corners.
  • have difficulty telling which direction the where sounds are coming from.
  • have trouble judging the speed of cars reliably.
  • tend to focus on what is in front of them.
  • may behave differently when they are out with other children, forgetting about traffic.
  • may freeze if they find themselves in the path of a car, rather than jump out of the way.
  • require specially fitted restraints which must be altered as they grow.

Children as cyclists

It is legal in Western Australia for people of all ages to ride on the footpath, but it is important to be aware that driveways are dangerous. Children under the age of 10 should ride under the supervision of adults.

Most cycling injuries occur on public roads and when children fall off their bikes. Everyone must wear approved cycling helmets that meet Australian standards and fit correctly at all times while riding.

Children on driveways

One child is run over in the driveway of his or her own home every week in Australia. More than 33% of children aged under 6 killed in crashes were killed ‘off road’ in yards, car parks and driveways.

It is recommended that children are always supervised, and not left alone to play, especially when they are near parked or moving cars. Hold their hands or hold them close to keep them safe. Make access to the driveway from the house difficult for young children.
 

Children and other wheeled devices

Roller skaters, skateboarders and scooter riders are legally allowed to use footpaths and shared paths. They must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians.

Scooters, rollerbladers, inline-skaters and skateboarders can use roads but only in daylight hours on local roads that do not have white lines or median islands and which have speed limits of 50 km/h or less. These road users must keep to the left.

Helmets are recommended for the safety of roller skaters, skateboarders and scooter riders.


 

Related Resources

Produced by SDERA in consultation with the member agencies of WA Road Safety Education Committee.

Produced by SDERA in consultation with the member agencies of WA Road Safety Education Committee.

Directions: Western Australia’s Road Safety Education Action Plan 2015-2017