ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Parental Perceptions of Legitimate Reasons to Relax their Seating Rules for Children in Cars

Lennon, Alexia (Peer reviewed)

Early Childhood Road Safety


One simple, cost-effective action to improve children?s safety in cars is to restrain them in the rear seat whenever this is possible, as this has been shown to be about 35% safer than sitting in the front in the event of a crash. Moreover, seating position and restraint use have an interactive effect on safety: wearing a restraint and sitting in the rear provides the best protection of all. Despite this fact it appears that a high proportion of children are still travelling in the front seats of cars in Australia. Changing this behaviour presents a challenge as we have little information about the factors that influence parental decisions regarding seating position for children. Focus group discussions were held with parent-drivers (n = 33) of children (12 years and younger) in urban areas of Brisbane to explore these factors. Findings were that parents usually had firm rules that children should always sit in the back. However, there were occasions when parents relaxed these rules for what they saw as legitimate reasons. Amongst these were: perceptions of the trip as short, giving children a ?treat?, and management of behaviours such as sibling fights and tantrums.