Sunday, 9 September 2012

Children, nannies and cars

As a parent, grandparent and as the  director of a nanny agency, the safety of children in cars and using the streets is especially important.

My particular concern is that nannies are frequently required to transport children as part of their role: to and from school, to play activities, to appointments etc.

As an agency, we have strict requirements about nannies driving, and the agency must be notified if transport of children is required before commencement of care.

It is the client's responsibility to ensure that the nanny has a driver's licence and that any car used has the necessary child restraints fitted, and is in a condition suitable for the transport of children.  If the nanny has any doubts about these areas, we recommend that they raise their concerns with the client families, and if this does not make any difference, with the agency, and that they should not drive until the issues are resolved.

In Victoria, the law requires all adults, driver, front and back seat passengers to use a seat belt.  As at February, 2012, all children must be properly restrained according to the following requirements:
  • Children under 6 months to be in a properly fastened and adjusted rear facing approved restraint , generally a reclined baby car seat;
  • Children 6 months to under 4 years to be in a properly fastened rear OR front facing approved restraint with inbuilt harness;
  • Children aged 4 years to under 7 years to be in a properly fastened and adjusted forward facing approved child restraint with in built harness OR  or a properly fastened and adjusted lap-sash belt or child safety harness;
  • Children aged 7 to under 16 years to be in an approved booster seat with a properly adjusted lap-sash belt or child safety harness OR a properly fastened and adjuted seatbelt. An adult lap-sash belt is designed for a minimum height of 145cm., a height most children reach between 10 and 12 years.
  • If a car has 2 or more rows of seats, children under 4 must not travel in the front seat;
  • If all rear seats are used by children under 7, children aged 4 years and under 7 may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved booster seat.
  • Any child too heay or too tall for the restraint recommended for their age should use a restraint in the next age category.
Note that  the emphasis is not only on the appropriate type of restraint, but also on proper fastening and adjustment.  For this reason, it is recommended that restarints be fitted at an approved fitting station, and that you check regularly that the restraint is still the right size for the child, and that all the connecting straps are done up firmly.

All this information, and advice on approved restraints and the location of fitting stations is available from Vicroads and in brochures available from the Victorian Government bookshop.

Beyond these formal requirements, we expect that nannies use good safety procedures. These include:
  • Always put children in and out of the car by the kerbside door;
  • Put the older child(ren) in the car, then transfer the baby from its pram/stroller, then put shopping etc in the car;
  • When leaving the car, get out and assemble the pram/stroller then get the baby out, followed by the older child(ren);
  • Do not allow the older child(ren) to open the door or to leave the car until you are at the exit door; this is easily avoided if you use the childproof door locks provided by most manufacturers;
  • Have the windows closed with lock on, or if necessary in hot weather, only have the windows open for 4-5 cms at the top;
  • Insist on quiet behaviour in the car, and if there is any squabbling etc, stop the car until the behaviour stops.  On long drives, use distractions like familiar songs and stories on CD/DVD or if necessary videos, but preferably looking out the window spotting things, playing I Spy.  The purpose of all this is to reduce distractions for the driver;
  • NEVER leave children unattended in a car.
Road safety is a huge area, and in another blog we'll look at pedestrain safety and teaching children good practices.



  1. Child safety and baby booster seats protect children of all weights, including those on the heavy side.

  2. Yes, they do.

    But any child exceeding the height and weight recommendations for a particular seat is advised to use the recommendations for the next size.

    This generally happens at about the time they are due to 'move up' anyway.