Car seat diversion drives NSW forward
A ground-breaking proof of concept aimed at keeping children safe in cars is helping to divert families away from fines and toward greater safety on NSW roads.
The Car Seat Diversion proof of concept is a collaboration between NSW Police and Revenue NSW, trialled across Macarthur, Bankstown, Blacktown, Wagga Wagga and Dubbo Local Government Areas.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said NSW-licensed drivers who have inadequately restrained children in their cars when pulled over by police are given the option of taking up a diversion to install the appropriate seating and avoid an initial fine.
“Children are some of our most vulnerable road users, and when it comes to road safety, they are completely reliant on their parents and carers to keep them safe,” Mr Toole said.
"If a child car seat is not used correctly, the risk of serious injuries in a crash is seven times higher than if the seat was correctly fitted, so I’m proud that NSW is leading the way with this nation-first trial that doesn’t just save families money, but also lives.
“Since the program rolled out in June 2021, almost 60 people have had a child seat correctly installed and avoided a fine.
“These drivers have 7 days to make an appointment with an accredited car seat installer and 21 days to install the appropriate seating. After providing evidence, drivers will avoid a fine, with the cost of a proper child’s car seat often being less than the fine” he said.
Minister for Finance Damien Tudehope said that the option of diversion has proven to be an effective way to influence behaviouron NSW roads and offers people a positive customer experience with both NSW Police and Revenue NSW.
“The proof of concept offers motorists the chance to avoid these fines and we have seen a significant uptake in appropriate seating being installed,” Mr Tudehope said.
“It also ensures those who might be suffering hardship can better direct funds towards the right seat and installation rather than a fine.
“We are confident the Car Seat Diversion proof of concept not only offers alternatives targeted at safety to these types of fines but will ultimately stop people receiving multiple fines for the same offence.
Macarthur Highway Patrol Inspector Gregory Donaldson, based out of Eagle Vale Police Station, said the feedback on the program was overwhelmingly positive with high levels of compliance from drivers offered the diversion option.
“We have seen many people who weren’t aware their children were incorrectly restrained who were grateful to have the chance to ensure their children were safe and avoid a hefty fine,” MrDonaldson said.
“It also helps ensure our communities know how to properly seat children in their vehicles.”
Mohammad Mahmood, a resident in Austral, said that the proof of concept was lifesaving for his family after their involvement in a motor vehicle accident after taking up the diversionary option.
“Within one week of being issued with the diversion, I had three car seats installed for my youngest daughters. They did a very good job” Mr Mahmood said.
“I was so lucky to have the seats fitted because a few months later we had a car accident near our home – the whole family was in the car. It was a write-off, but no one was injured. It was incredible. Honestly, if the seats weren’t properly fitted, the outcome could have been very different.
“The program is advantageous to everyone because it ultimately helps to save lives. It also saves families from having to pay a fine on top of the installation.
“It’s great to have the experts on board. You never think anything will happen to you until it does” he said.
The penalty for a driver who is found to have a child passenger incorrectly seated or inadequately restrained is a $352 fine and three demerit points. Fines and demerits may differ for holders of learners and provisional licences. Drivers have to be first time car seat offenders and NSW licensed drivers to receive the diversion.
The diversion is in the proof of concept stage and offered by participating NSW Police Officers in the trial Local Government Areas. Following a formal review, the Government will consider a wider roll-out of this innovative diversion option.
For more information on how Revenue NSW can support people experiencing fines hardship please visit: www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/fines-and-fees/cant-pay-your-debt