Wearing seatbelts is compulsory, not a choice, and seatbelt and child restraint laws apply in South Australia.
Drivers must ensure that they and any other passenger in the vehicle are wearing their seatbelt, regardless of their age. However, passengers are still accountable, as both drivers and passengers aged 16 years and over can be fined if they fail to wear a seatbelt.
Wearing a seatbelt can be a life or death decision – both for you and your passengers. Wearing a seatbelt doubles your chances of surviving a serious crash and nothing else offers the same level of crash protection for children as a properly fitted, approved child restraint.
The driver is responsible for ensuring all passengers are correctly restrained. Penalties include expiation fees and demerit points.
When travelling in a motor vehicle in South Australia, all children under 16 years of age must be restrained in a suitable approved restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened.
Child restraint laws are specific about what type of restraint is to be used at different ages and where children must be seated in a vehicle. Child restraints must match the age and size of the child and always be properly installed and adjusted to fit the child's body. The aim of these laws is to reduce the risk of injury caused by restraints that are unsuitable for a child's size.
Children up to the age of 6 months
- Must use an approved rear facing infant restraint.
- Must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats
Children 6 months up to 4 years
- Must use either an approved rear facing infant restraint or a forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness.
- Must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats.
Children 4 years up to 7 years
- Must use either an approved forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness, or a booster seat with a properly fastened and adjusted lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness.
- Must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats, unless all the other seats are occupied by children who are under 7 years.
Children 7 years up to 16 years
- Must use either an approved child restraint (a child safety seat or booster seat depending on their size), or a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened.
Child restraint laws are based on age (rather than by height or weight) because research indicates that this is easier for parents to follow and will result in the smallest number of children being inappropriately restrained. However, a child's height and weight are still important to consider when making a choice about the right restraint or booster seat for your child. The law specifies:
- If a child is too tall or heavy for the restraint specified for their age, they may use the restraint specified for the next age group.
- If a child is too small to advance into the restraint for their age, they should remain in the restraint specified for the previous age group until they have outgrown that restraint.
Please visit the mylicence website for more detailed information on seatbelt and child restraint laws.