Children aged between 7-16 years

Children grow at different rates. Children aged between 7 and 16 are required to use a booster seat or adult seat belt when travelling in a vehicle. Find out which is safest for your child.

Booster seats are held in place by the child’s own body and the vehicles lap-sash seat belt. A child can be injured in a crash if the seat belt is not properly adjusted.

Tips when choosing and using a booster seat

  • Never use a lap-only seat belt with a booster seat, only a lap-sash seat belt. If there is no choice but to use a lap-only seat belt, you must also use a child safety harness.
  • Check that the sash of the seat belt crosses your child's shoulder and does not touch their neck. The sash guide on the booster seat can be adjusted to prevent this.
  • If your seat has a top tether strap make sure you use it.
  • Choose a booster seat with an expandable headrest. You can adjust the height of the booster seat as your child grows.
  • Choose a booster seat with an anti-submarining feature. This holds the lap part of the seat belt down low on a child's hips, to stop them from sliding under the seat belt in a crash.

Integrated booster seats

Children aged 4 years or older can use integrated booster seats when travelling in Victoria.

Integrated booster seats have already been built into the seat of the car and can be adjusted so that an adult or a child aged 4 years or older can travel in the seat.

Booster cushions

The use of booster cushions is not recommended.

Booster cushions are seats which do not have a seat back. They provide no protection to a child in a side-on crash.

Once children have outgrown their booster seats, they must wear an adult seat belt when travelling.

When using a seat belt make sure:

  • the sash sits flat on the shoulder without touching the face or neck
  • the lap strap crosses low over the hips, not the abdomen
  • it is not twisted
  • all slack is removed.

Lap-only seat belts

Lap-only seat belts do not give you as much protection as lap-sash seat belts.

If there is a choice, always put your child in seat which has a lap-sash seat belt before a lap-only seat belt

If your vehicle has a lap-only seat belt, replace it with a lap-sash seat belt if possible.

Children aged over 7 years must use either:

  • a booster seat, or
  • an adult seat belt.

Children grow at different rates and there can be big differences in their heights and weights. Therefore you can choose the type of restraint that is best for your child's size.

An adult lap-sash seat belt is designed for people with a minimum height of 145 cm. The average child will reach this height between 10 to 12 years of age.

Children who are not tall enough to use an adult seat belt can slump into their seat. The lap part of the seat belt is then too high on their stomach which causes more serious injuries in a crash.

Therefore, it is recommended that your child continues using a booster seat until they have outgrown it. There are some booster seats available for children up to the age of 10 years.

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