The foundation of New Zealand car seat law is that any child up until their 7th birthday must be in an appropriate child restraint. There are some additional clauses that expand on this and some exceptions to the law which are set out as NZ child restraint legislation in the Transport Act 1998 and the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004.
Part 7 of the Land Transport Road User Rule (2004) is “Driver Responsibility and Occupant Protection”. Among other things, this part sets out the rules relating to the age of children who must be restrained, and how this must be done. We have reproduced the clauses relating to this subject here. They are clauses 7.6, 7.7, 7.8 and 7.9.
Following these clauses, we have reproduced clause 7.11 which states the exceptions to the law.
For a summarised version of NZ car seat law, refer to our article “Car Seat Law NZ – Simplified“.
Taken from the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004:
7. Driver responsibility and occupant protection.
7.6 Driver must ensure passengers under 7 years use child restraint.
A driver must ensure that, while the vehicle is in motion on a road, every passenger under the age of 7 years is properly restrained by an approved child restraint appropriate for that passenger.
7.7 Driver must ensure passengers aged 7 used child restraint or seat belt.
A driver must ensure that, while the motor vehicle is in motion on a road, every passenger aged 7-
(a) is properly restrained by an approved child restraint appropriate for that passenger, if such a restraint is available in the vehicle; or
(b) if such a restraint is not available in the vehicle, is restrained as securely as practicable in the circumstances using any child restraint or seat belt that is available (whether or not that child restraint or seat belt is approved).
7.8 Driver must ensure passengers of 8 to 14 years wear seat belts.
(1) Subclause (2) applies when a person-
(a) is a passenger in a motor vehicle; and
(b) occupies a seat fitted with a seat belt, whether or not the seat belt is an approved seat belt; and
(c) is aged from 8 to 14 years.
(2) The driver of the vehicle must ensure that, while the vehicle is in motion on the road, the person-
(a) wears the seat belt correctly so that he or she is properly restrained; and
(b) keeps the seat belt securely fastened.
7.9 Driver must not permit passengers under 15 years to sit in front seat without child restraint or seat belt.
A driver must not, while the motor vehicle is in motion on a road, permit a passenger under the age of 15 years who is not properly restrained by an approved child restraint or seat belt appropriate for that passenger to be alongside the driver unless0
(a) the vehicle is not provided with sitting positions behind the driver’s seat; or
(b) all the sitting positions behind the driver’s seat are occupied by passengers under the age of 15 years.
7.11 Exceptions to application of requirements relating to use of child restraints and seat belts.
1. The requirements of clauses 7.6 to 7.9 do not apply to a driver (whether imposed in respect of himself or herself or any child) or to a passenger in any motor vehicle if the driver or passenger produces to an enforcement officer, whenever required to do so by that officer, a certificate from a registered medical practitioner certifying that the restraining of the person who would otherwise be required by those provisions to be restrained by a child restraint or seat belt is impracticable or undesirable for medical reasons.
2. A driver or passenger who is required to produce a certificate to an enforcement officer under sub-clause (1) has 7 days, after the day on which a requirement is imposed, to do so.
2A. If the certificate produced to the enforcement officer was issued on or after 1 October 2011:
- the certificate must specify the date on which it was issued and its expiry date, and;
- the expiry date must be on or after the day on which the certificate was required to be produced.
3. The requirements of clause 7.6 do not apply to a driver (whether imposed in respect of himself or herself or any child), or to a passenger in any vehicle if the driver:
- is driving a passenger service vehicle in which no appropriate child restraints are available, or
- is driving a motor vehicle first registered before 1 January 1955 in which no seat belts are available or
- is driving a motorcycle, or
- is driving a motor vehicle that is being used by an enforcement officer in the execution of the officer’s duty.