The latest annual national survey of child restraint use in New Zealand by children under 5 years old was carried out in October 2012.

Children in more than 4,800 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 populatiaon under five years in each local authority.

In 2012, 92 percent of children under 5 years were either in an infant seat, child seat, booster seat, or restrained by a child harness. This is a decrease from 93 percent in 2010, but higher than previous years.

Fifty-two percent of the children in the survey were appropriately restrained in child seats, 19 percent in infant seats, 18 percent in booster seats and 0.7 percent in child harnesses. A further 5 percent were restrained by adult safety belts only. The remaining 2.6 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 5 years (%)
 Category2001 2002 2003[1]2004 2005 2006[1]2007 2008 2009 2010[1]2012 
Appropriate restraint used 82  86  86  87  89  91  91  90  91  93  92 
Adult safety belt used 
Unrestrained 

 

Graph showing use of appropriate restraint, adult safety belt and unrestrained passengers from 1999 to 2012

In this report, changes have been commented on when the change is considered to be statistically significant[2]; that is, the change in the wearing rate observed in the survey is likely to reflect a real change in the wearing rate.

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 five years in each local government region. In 2012 at least 190 children were surveyed in each region, except in Gisborne where 84 were observed, the West Coast where 118 were observed and Otago where 82 were observed.

Table 2 shows that overall, the wearing of child restraints has decreased since 2010. Some regions have shown increases or decreases in wearing rates. For example, child restraint wearing in Wellington is at its highest recorded rate at 98 percent, up from 91 percent in 2010.  Wearing rates have decreased by 8 percent in Auckland, and have increased by 4 percent in the Waikato. Wearing rates in all other regions are at similar levels to previous years. 

Table 2: Child restraint wearing rates, by region (%)
Local
Government
Region
 20002001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012 
Northland 70  69  85  84  95  98  100  95  88  89  88  91
Auckland 75  77  83  82  81  86  92  90  90  89  96  88*
Waikato 78  81  88  90  87  89  87  89  93  89  90  94*
Bay of Plenty 79  78  87  78  81  91  89  86  87  84  91  94
Gisborne 68  79  69  76  88  92  83  100  94  90  85  81
Hawke's Bay 67  90  94  83  92  98  89  92  92  94  93  95
Taranaki 77  78  95  91  94  87  95  96  96  88  95  95
Manawatu
Wanganui
83  81  84  89  94  91  94  97  95  99  97  99
Wellington  81  83  82  90  89  91  92  90  81  97  91  98*
Nelson
Marlborough
Tasman 
73  79  94  92  93  91  93  91  96  96  93  93
 
West Coast  82  84  92  92  92  92  93  96  99  99  96   92
Canterbury  88  94  91  93  93  83  85  90  91  94 93  94
Otago  87  97  97  90  95  91  91  98  96   93 96  95
Southland  87  76  81  88  83  94  92  90  95  92  93  91
All NZ 79  82  86  86  87  89  91  91  90  91  93  92*

*Statistically significant change from previous record 

Metropolitan Area Wearing Rates

Child restraint wearing rates for selected metropolitan areas are presented in Table 3. Results from the previous cities of North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland and Manukau are now incorporated into Auckland, following their amalgamation in 2010. Auckland has shown a decrease in wearing rate from 96 percent in 2010 to 88 percent in 2012. Increased wearing rates were observed in Hamilton from 90 to 99 percent, Tauranga from 85 to 100 percent and Wellington from 93 to 99 percent. Wearing rates have not changed significantly in the other metropolitan areas shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Child restraint wearing rates, by metropolitan area (%)*
Metropolitan
areas 
 20002001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012 
Auckland 75  77  83  82  81  86  92  90  90  89  96  88** 
Hamilton  81  84  90  95  80  94  87  88  96  88  90  99** 
Tauranga      88  80  81  87  97  78  86  85  85  100** 
Wellington  91  87  86  84  86  87  87  98  84  97  93  99** 
Christchurch  88  94  90  93  91  77  85  89  98  98  91  92 
Dunedin  85  98  99  91  96  91  98  89  97  95  95  92 

*Prior to 2010, Auckland regional wearing rate shown.  Limited historical Tauranga data is available.

**Statistically significant change from previous record.

Local Authority Wearing Rates

Child restraint wearing rates at territorial local authority (TLA) level are presented in Table 4. At TLA 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 75 percent the margin of error[3] is approximately 9 percent. While small samples make it difficult to detect small changes in the wearing rate from year to year, these results are useful to local authorities as an indication of how much improvement is needed. Where fewer than 70 children were sampled in a TLA, neighbouring local bodies have been combined for estimation.

Table 4: Child restraint wearing rates by territorial local authority, 2012
Local authority/authoritiesChildren in sample% in child restraints
Northland
Far North 83 83
Far North/Kaipara 104 85
Whangarei 130 98
Auckland
Auckland 1164  88
Waikato
Waikato 78  87
Waipa 111  95
Matamata-Piako 77  86
Hamilton 167  99
Taupo/South Waikato 221  92
Bay of Plenty
Tauranga 95  100
Rotorua 121  98
Whakatane/Kawerau/Western Bay of Plenty 131  83
Gisborne
Gisborne 84  81
Hawke's Bay    
Napier 85  96
Wairoa/Hastings/Central Hawke's Bay 109  95
Taranaki    
New Plymouth 129 96
Stratford/South Taranaki 105 93
Manawatu-Wanganui    
Ruapehu/Rangitikei 102  100
Whanganui 74  96
Manawatu/Tararua/Horowhenua 94  98
Palmerston North 99  99
Wellington
Kapiti Coast/Porirua 94  98
Masterton/Carterton 55  Sample too small
Upper Hutt/Hutt City 190  99
Hutt City 123  99
Wellington City 257  99
Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman
Nelson/Tasman 162 97
Tasman 98  99
Marlborough/Kaikoura 77 87
West Coast
Westland/Buller/Grey 118  92
Canterbury
Christchurch 243 92
Christchurch/Waimakariri 279  93
Ashburton 75  96
Ashburton/Timaru 143 97
Otago
Waitaki/Central Otago/Clutha/Dunedin 117 95
Southland
Gore 73 89
Invercargill 110 90

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. Child restraint use in Waikato has increased from 89 percent in 2010 to 94 percent in 2012 and in Wellington from 91 percent in 2010 to 98 percent in 2012. Use has decreased in Waitemata from 97 to 92 percent, Auckland from 98 to 87 percent and Counties–Manukau from 94 to 84 percent. Wearing rates have not changed significantly in the other police districts, as shown in Table 5.

In 2012, at least 300 children were surveyed in each district, except in Northland (where 234 children were surveyed), Auckland (227 children) and Eastern (278 children).

Table 5: Percentage of children in child restraints, by police district (%)
Police District2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012 
Northland 70  69  85  84  95  98  100  95  88  89  88  91 
Waitemata 84  82  83  91  89  93  93  90  87  97  97  92* 
Auckland 81  82  88  86  88  86  84  89  95  99  98  87* 
Counties-Manukau 64  69  75  69  68  86  97  91  87  83  94  84* 
Waikato 80  83  87  91  86  90  86  87  93  89  89  94* 
Bay of Plenty 77  76  88  78  83  90  90  87  88  85  92  94 
Eastern 68  86  88  81  91  96  87  94  92  94  91  92 
Central 80  80  88  90  93  90  94  95  95  95  97  98 
Wellington 81  84  80 90  89  91  92  91  81  97  91  98* 
Tasman 75  80  94  92  93  91  93  92  97  96  94  93 
Canterbury 88  94  90  93  93  83  85  90  91  94  93  94 
Southern 87  89  93  89  91  92  92  95  96  92  94  93 
All NZ 79  82  86  86  87  89  91  91  90  91  93  92* 

*Statistically significant change from previous record.

Police Area Wearing Rates

Child restraint wearing rates at police area level are presented in Table 6. At police area 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 75 percent the margin of error[4] is approximately 9 percent. While small samples make it difficult to detect small changes in the wearing rate from year to year, these results are useful to local police as an indication of how much improvement is needed. Where fewer than 70 children were sampled in a police area, neighbouring local areas have been combined for estimation.

Table 6: Child restraint wearing rates by police area, 2012
Police areaChildren in sample% in child restraints
Northland
Far North 83  83
Whangarei 151  97
Waitemata
Rodney/North Shore 294 95
North Shore 229  96
Waitakere 225  88
Auckland
Auckland West/Auckland East 227  87
Auckland East 159  86
Counties/Manukau
Counties-Manukau West 126  80
Counties-Manukau East 157  85
Counties-Manukau Central/South 135  89
Waikato
Hamilton 167  99
Waikato East 77  86
Waikato West 189  92
Bay of Plenty
Taupo 221 95
Western Bay of Plenty 159  99
Eastern Bay of Plenty 67  Sample too small
Rotorua 121 98
Eastern
Gisborne 98  82
Napier 85  96
Hastings 95  96
Central
New Plymouth 129 96
Taranaki Rural 105 93
Whanganui 108  97
Ruapehu 68  Sample too small
Palmerston North Rural 120  99
Palmerston North City 99  99
Wellington
Kapiti-Mana 193 97
Wellington 219  100
Lower Hutt 123  99
Upper Hutt/Lower Hutt 190 99
Wairarapa 55  Sample too small
Tasman
Nelson Bays 162 97
Marlborough 77 87
West Coast 118  92
Canterbury
Northern Canterbury 143 95
Northern Canterbury/Christchurch Central 195  91
Mid-South Canterbury 84 98
Southern Canterbury 143  97
Southern
Dunedin 73  93
Dunedin/Otago Rural 117  95
Southland 183  90

 

1 Rounded figures given; actual percentages add to 100%.

2 Margin of error based on 95 percent confidence interval.

3 Margin of error based on 95 percent confidence interval.

4 Margin of error based on 95 percent confidence interval.