• Open Access

Increase in best practice child car restraint use for children aged 2–5 years in low socioeconomic areas after introduction of mandatory child restraint laws


Correspondence to: Dr Julie Brown, Neuroscience Research Australia, Barker St, Randwick, NSW 2031; e-mail: j.brown@neura.edu.au


Objectives : To examine changes in child car restraint practices in low socioeconomic areas following the introduction of mandatory child car restraint legislation in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

Methods : Data from two cross-sectional studies of child car restraint use at pre-schools, early childhood centres and primary schools before and after the introduction of legislating mandatory age-appropriate car restraint use for children up to the age of seven years was used in this analysis. All included observations were from local government areas with socioeconomic status in the lowest 30% of urban Sydney. Children aged 2–5 years were observed in their vehicles as they arrived at observation sites (107 pre-legislation, 360 post-legislation). Multilevel logistic regression was used to examine changes in observed age-appropriate and correct use of car restraints.

Results : Age-appropriate car restraint use was higher post-legislation than pre-legislation. After controlling for child's age, parental income, language spoken at home and adjusting for clustering, the odds of children being appropriately restrained post-legislation were 2.3 times higher than in the pre-legislation sample, and the odds of them being correctly restrained were 1.6 times greater.

Conclusions : Results indicate an improvement in car restraint practices among children aged 2–5 in low socioeconomic areas after introduction of child restraint laws.

Implications : Despite improvements observed with enhanced legislation, further efforts are required to increase optimal child car restraint use.