This annual national survey of child restraint use in New Zealand by children under five years was carried out in October 2009.

Children in more than 5,300 cars were observed at 112 sites throughout New Zealand. As in previous years, sites were surveyed during school hours in the school term in order to target pre-schoolers. Results were weighted to reflect the population under five in each local authority.

The results from 2009 showed that across all sites, 91 percent of children under the age of five years were either in an infant seat, child seat, booster seat, or restrained by a child harness.

Fifty two percent of the children in the survey were appropriately restrained in child seats, 18 percent in booster seats, 20 percent in infant seats and less than half a percent in child harnesses. A further 5 percent were restrained by adult safety belts only. The remaining 4 percent were not restrained, including less than 1 percent who were held on the knee of other passengers (see Table 1).

Table 1: Restraint type used by children under five (%)

Category 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003* 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Appropriate restraint used 75 79 82 86 86 87 89 91 91 90 91
Adult safety belt used 11 11 9 9 8 8 7 6 7 5 5
Unrestrained 14 11 9 5 5 5 4 4 2 5 4

*Rounded figures given; actual percentages add to 100 percent.

Regional Wearing Rates

National surveys are designed to provide a consistent measure of child restraint use over time, by surveying the same sites in each region each year. Table 2 shows the child restraint wearing rates by children under the age of five years in each Local Government region. In 2009 at least 200 children were surveyed in each region, except in Gisborne where 62 were observed and the West Coast where 93 were observed.

Overall, the wearing of child restraints has changed little since 2007. Child restraint wearing in Waikato and Taranaki decreased this year. Wearing rates have increased in Manawatu-Whanganui and Wellington. Wearing rates in all other regions are being maintained.

Local government region 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Northland 61 70 69 85 84 95 98 100 95 88 89
Auckland 70 75 77 83 82 81 86 92 90 90 89
Waikato 80 78 81 88 90 87 89 87 89 93 89
Bay of Plenty 75 79 78 87 78 81 91 89 86 87 84
Gisborne 47 68 79 69 76 88 92 93 100 94 90
Hawke's Bay 74 67 90 94 83 92 98 89 92 92 94
Taranaki 82 77 78 95 91 94 87 95 96 96 88
Manawatu-Whanganui 71 83 81 84 89 94 91 94 97 95 99
Wellington 81 81 83 82 90 89 91 92 90 81 97
Nelson-Marlborough 65 73 79 94 92 93 91 93 91 96 96
West Coast 80 82 84 92 92 92 92 93 96 99 99
Canterbury 87 88 94 91 93 93 83 85 90 91 94
Otago 89 87 97 97 90 95 91 91 98 96 93
Southland 84 87 76 81 88 83 94 92 90 95 92
All NZ 75 79 82 86 86 87 89 91 91 90 91

Metropolitan Area Wearing Rates

Child restraint wearing rates for selected metropolitan areas are presented in Table 3. The observed wearing rates have increased for Waitakere, Auckland and Wellington and decreased for Hamilton. All other metropolitan areas showed a steady wearing rate.

Table 3: Child restraint wearing rates, by metropolitan area (%)

Metropolitan areas 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
North Shore 84 91 90 79 88 80 94 93 92 98 97
Waitakere 76 80 78 86 91 95 91 90 89 82 94
Auckland City 71 81 82 88 85 88 86 86 89 95 99
Manukau 59 64 69 82 68 66 76 96 91 86 82
Hamilton 84 81 84 90 95 80 94 87 88 96 88
Wellington City 88 91 87 86 84 86 87 87 89 84 97
Christchurch 84 88 94 90 93 91 77 85 89 98 98
Dunedin 87 85 98 99 91 96 91 98 100 97 95

Local Authority Wearing Rates

At Local Authority level, sample sizes are relatively small and results should be treated with caution. For example, with a sample size of 100 and a wearing rate of 80 percent, the margin of error (based on a 95 percent confidence interval for the wearing rate) is approximately 8 percent.

Child restraint wearing rates at Local Authority level are presented in Table 4. Results are likely to fluctuate where sample sizes are small and caution should be taken, particularly when samples are smaller than 100. No wearing rate has been estimated where fewer than 60 children were sampled. Where appropriate, neighbouring local authority areas have been combined to enable estimation of the child restraint wearing rate.

Table 4: Child restraint wearing rates by Territorial Local Authority, 2009

Local authority/authorities Children in sample % in child restraints
Northland
Far North/Kaipara 119 78
Whangerei 89 98
Auckland
North Shore 272 97
Rodney 87 99
Waitakere 126 94
Auckland 314 99
Manukau 368 82
Franklin/Papakura 103 87
Waikato
Waikato 85 80
Waipa 152 93
Matamata - Piako/South Waikato 176 90
Hamilton 159 88
Taupo/South Waikato 154 92
Bay of Plenty
Tauranga 131 85
Western Bay of Plenty 91 60
Rotorua 72 92
Whakatane/Kawerau 76 83
Gisborne
Gisborne 62 90
Hawke's Bay
Wairoa 79 95
Napier 141 99
Hastings 157 93
Hastings/Central Hawke's Bay 182 93
Taranaki
New Plymouth 209 86
Stratford 99 96
South Taranaki 95 92
Manawatu-Whanganui
Ruapehu/Rangitikei/Whanganui 130 97
Manawatu/Tararua/Horowhenua 114 99
Manuwatu 68 97
Palmerston North 62 100
Wellington
Kapiti Coast 61 98
Porirua 69 99
Masterton/Carterton 111 97
Upper Hutt/Hutt City 146 95
Hutt City 93 95
Wellington City 226 97
Nelson-Marlborough/Tasman
Nelson 85 100
Tasman 99 96
Marlborough/Kaikoura 111 87
West Coast
Westland/Buller/Grey 93 99
Canterbury
Christchurch 279 98
Waimakariri 48 Sample too small
Ashburton 64 97
Timaru 87 93
Otago
Waitaki/Central Otago 111 91
Clutha 67 96
Dunedin 100 95
Southland
Gore 90 92
Invercargill 114 89

Police District Wearing Rates

National surveys are designed to provide a consistent measure of child restraint use over time, by surveying the same sites in each Police District each year. Waitemata, Auckland and Wellington increased from 2008. The increase observed for Wellington implies that the 2008 low was a one-off fluctuation, however further observation will be needed to confirm this.
In 2009, at least 350 children were surveyed in each district, except in Northland (where 208 children were surveyed) and in Auckland (314 children).

Table 5: Percentage of children in child restraints, by Police District (%)

Police District 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Northland 61 70 69 85 84 95 98 100 95 88 89
Waitemata 79 84 82 83 91 89 93 93 90 87 97
Auckland 71 81 82 88 86 88 86 84 89 95 99
Counties-Manukau 63 64 69 75 69 68 86 97 91 87 83
Waikato 80 80 83 87 91 86 90 86 87 93 89
Bay of Plenty 76 77 76 88 78 83 90 90 87 88 85
Eastern 63 68 86 88 81 91 96 87 94 92 94
Central 77 80 80 88 90 93 90 94 95 95 95
Wellington 81 81 84 80 90 89 91 92 91 81 97
Tasman 70 75 80 94 92 93 91 93 92 97 96
Canterbury 87 88 94 90 93 93 83 85 90 91 94
Southern 88 87 89 93 89 91 92 92 95 96 92
All NZ 75 79 82 86 86 87 89 91 91 90 91

Police Area Wearing Rates

Child restraint wearing rates at Police Area level are presented in Table 6. Results are likely to fluctuate where sample sizes are small and caution should be taken, particularly when samples are smaller than 100. No wearing rate has been estimated where fewer than 60 children were sampled. Where appropriate, neighbouring police areas have been combined to enable estimation of the child restraint wearing rate.

Table 6: Child restraint wearing rates by Police area, 2009

Police Area Children in sample % in child restraints
Northland
Far North 98 81
Whangerei 110 93
Waitemata
Rodney 87 99
North Shore 272 97
Waitakere 126 94
Auckland
Auckland West 105 99
Auckland East 209 99
Counties/Manukau
Counties-Manukau West 180 82
Counties-Manukau East 156 90
Counties-Manukau Centra/South 135 71
Waikato
Hamilton 159 88
Waikato East 65 89
Waikato West 237 88
Bay of Plenty
Taupo 154 92
Western Bay of Plenty 222 79
Eastern Bay of Plenty 76 83
Rotorua 72 92
Eastern
Gisborne 141 92
Napier 141 99
Hastings 182 93
Central
New Plymouth 209 86
Taranaki Rural 194 93
Whanganui 82 98
Ruapehu/Whanganui 130 97
Palmerston North Rural 143 98
Palmerston North City 62 100
Wellington
Kapiti-Mana 172 98
Wellington 155 97
Lower Hutt 93 95
Upper Hutt 146 95
Wairarapa 111 97
Tasman
Nelson Bays 184 98
Marlborough 111 87
West Coast 93 99
Canterbury
Northern Cantebury 142 88
Christchurch Central 67 99
Southern Canterbury 151 95
Mid-South Canterbury 118 100
Southern
Dunedin 167 95
Otago Rural 111 91
Southland 204 91