It seems that Australia has the toughest car seat law and requires car seats to be used even in taxis. We are planning to travel in Australia with our 4 years old during Xmas. We won’t be renting a car when we are in Sydney and Melbourne. After checking around, it seems that it was rather difficult to find a taxi with car seats and even if they provided car seats, they would start charging from their car seat depot until getting to the destination. As carrying a car seat would be quite a nuisance, I am wondering if the “RideSafer Travel Vest” (http://www.safetrafficsystem.com/newsite/find.php) can be used in Australia in lieu of a car seat or booster. Thanks.
Donna @ Litttle Gulliver said: September 7 2011 5:29 PM
yes, there are tough laws here and your query is one which many parents wonder about (even those that live here)! However, there are exemptions for children riding in taxi’s if a carseat is not available (therefore, legally your child would not have to ride in a car seat if you did not have one available). The exemptions include;
* a child under one is travelling in a taxi and a suitable restraint is not available, however the child must not travel in the front seat
* a child over one is travelling in a taxi, and there is no suitable restraint available and the child occupies their own seating position.
* a child is travelling in a police or emergency vehicle
* a child has a medical condition or physical disability that makes it impractical to use a child restraint, and the driver has a certificate from a doctor indicating this is the case.
I have looked at the Ride Safer Vest before and think its sounds great. However, I cannot see that it is approved for use in Australia. Having said that, it may seem unlikely that a taxi driver would stop you from using it! (I have never used one and would be really interested to hear about it if you decide on getting one).
As you mentioned, a car seat would be a burden and bringing your own from overseas is unlikely to meet Australian regulations anyway. If you decided to consider a carseat you may choose to buy a cheaper car seat here and then donate it to a charity when leaving. Other alternatives could be to consider a “booster cushion” seat with a seat belt adjuster such as a Safe Fit. These would be a bit less bulky than a car seat and provide more protection than a seat belt alone. There are also reputable hiring companies, but again, when you aren’t hiring a car…
Also, have you seen the Trunki Boost A Pak? I love these (note; they aren’t approved or sold in Australia). The back pack style may suit you as they seem ideal for travel. This allows the child to be lifted up in the seat and move the seat belt away from the neck.
Since taxi’s in Australia is an area of interest to many, I’ll now include some general information below;
A note on Child restraints in Australia
All child restraints used in Australia must comply with current Australian standards – one of the main features of which is the use of a rear strap to an anchor point. Australian child restraint standards are some of the most stringent in the world and most overseas child restraints do not comply with these standards and cannot legally be used in Australia – this includes restraints from countries such as the UK and USA.
Travelling in taxis in Australia
Taxi drivers are not required to provide child restraints or booster seats.
All taxis should have the correct anchor point for fitting the restraint, but it is always advisable to call the taxi company in advance to check.
Taxi companies may be able to provide child restraints if they are given sufficient notice. A surcharge is the norm for the hire of the child seat and you will often have to pay for the taxi to collect the seat from a depot or taxi company’s headquarters. Your journey will be metered from the carseat collection point, to wherever you are picked up and then onto your final destination. Check all charges with your taxi company in advance and ensure that you book your vehicle well in advance (at least an hour).
The rules for travelling in taxis with very young children do vary from state to state within Australia. It is advisable to check with taxi companies when booking and to order a child seat in advance. Customer service desks at airports (both within Australia and internationally) should be able to assist you with booking taxis with childseats if you are not able to pre-book a taxi prior to your arrival.
Finally, Peter and family – all the best for a fabulous holiday! Sydney and Melbourne have some great attractions for families. I hope some of these ideas are useful and would love to hear what you decide. Enjoy the rest of your planning and let us know if we can help further.
Other relevant Little Gulliver Blog articles:
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