Calls for child safety seats in taxis

Mount St Thomas parent Danielle Broadhead, who campaigned to change child restraint laws after her daughter died in a car crash, believes taxis should not be treated differently to private vehicles.

"I don't understand how anybody at any level of government could think that that was OK," Mrs Broadhead said.

She and her husband, Noel, began a campaign to improve the laws governing child restraints after their daughter Isabelle was killed in 2008. The three-year-old had been sitting in a booster seat and an autopsy found she died of blunt-force trauma to her stomach caused by the adult seatbelt she was wearing.

Child restraints in cabs a ‘practicality’

At the time of her death, the laws were effectively the same as those that govern taxis today.

"Originally, there was no legislation at all for after 12 months [old]," Mrs Broadhead said.

"After 12 months, you were legally allowed to do whatever you like."

That was part of the problem as Mrs Broadhead saw it; there were no definitive guidelines as to what parents should do once their child turned one.

That changed in 2010, when the Isabelle Broadhead Child Restraint Measures became law in NSW.

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But taxis were made exempt from most of those measures, only being legally required to use a child restraint for children less than a year old.

One of the reasons for the variation is practicality; that it would be too difficult for every taxi to carry child restraints.

This explanation makes no sense to Mrs Broadhead.

"I don't think that practicality should even come into it," she said.

"If you're transporting a child and you, as the driver, have an accident, are you really going to be able to say 'oh, that was all that was practically possible'?

"The truth is, even if a taxi has a low-speed accident with a child even smaller than Isabelle, even if they're in an adult belt, they're most likely going to die - and there's no coming back from that."

Mrs Broadhead felt that suggesting a child travel in a taxi without a suitable restraint was the same as expecting an adult to get into a cab without seatbelts.

She believed the legislation needed to change, but she said taxi companies could act independent of the law and just change their policy.

"I would assume that it would be management that would mandate it.

"They should be saying: 'We have a duty of care. If this is our job. We're driving cars and children are getting into our cars, then we have a duty of care to protect them. Therefore we provide restraints for any child that gets into the car'," Mrs Broadhead said.SEATBELT LAWS

Private vehicles

• Children under six months must be restrained in a rearward-facing approved child restraint.

• Children aged between six months and four years must be restrained in either a rearward-facing approved child restraint or a forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness.

• Children aged between four and seven must be restrained in an approved forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness, or in an approved booster seat restrained by a seatbelt.

• Children between seven and 16 must either sit on a booster seat and be restrained by a seatbelt, or occupy a seating position that is fitted with a suitable approved seatbelt.

• No child under four may sit in the front seat. Neither may a child between four and seven use the front seat, unless the back seats are occupied by children under seven.

Taxis

• Children under six months must be restrained in a rearward-facing approved child restraint.

• Children aged between six and 12 months must be restrained in either a rearward-facing approved child restraint or a forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness.

• Children from one year onwards must sit in a booster seat or occupy a seating position that is fitted with a suitable approved seatbelt.

• Restrictions about children sitting in the front  are the same as for private vehicles.

• Taxi companies can make child restraints available if they are requested when the taxi is booked.

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