Child restraints protect a young child against injury in crashes but best practice child restraint use is low in Australia, particularly among lower socio-economic groups. We investigated factors associated with restraint use to inform the development of education and distribution programmes to support new Australian legislation on child passengers among families in low socio-economic areas of metropolitan Sydney. We interviewed a parent or carer of 1160 children aged 2-5 years enrolled at one of 28 early childhood centres in low socio-economic areas of urban Sydney. Appropriate child restraint use was defined as a forward facing child restraint (FFCR) for 2-3 year olds and a FFCR or booster seat for children aged 4 years or more. Predictors of self-reported appropriate use were explored using logistic regression. Analysis was conducted on one child from each family in the target age range (2-5 years): 586 (51%) were male and the mean age was 3.5 (Standard Deviation 0.8) years. There were 432 (45%) families with annual income below $60,000, 248 (22%) spoke a language other than English at home and 360 (33%) had 3 or more children. Fifty-four percent of carers indicated that their 2-3 year old children travelled in a FFCR. Inappropriate use among children in this age group was more likely when the carer was <36 years (odds ratio (OR) 1.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-2.45), in families with ≥3 children (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.10-2.44) and when the carer believed that a booster seat was just as safe as a FFCR (OR 2.98, 2.05-4.32). Eight-eight percent of carers of 4-5 year olds reported use of a booster seat or FFCR. Non-use was associated with low household income (OR 3.10, 95% CI 1.67-5.75), in families with ≥3 children (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.09-3.76) and families where a language other than English is spoken at home (OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.10-5.21). Non-English speaking families had less awareness of the new law and poorer knowledge of safety benefits of child restraints. They also had lower household incomes and more concerns about cost of child restraints and booster seats. These findings can inform development of interventions to promote best practice child restraint use, which will reach non-English speaking families in this region. They also confirm the importance of economic and logistic barriers to best practice child restraint use.
- Child injury
- Child restraint