The safest way for all students to travel is in a vehicle seat wearing a seatbelt as required by law.
Child car seats and boosters
It is a legal requirement that children aged from four to seven years old travel in a forward facing Australian Standards Approved (AS/NZS1754) child car seat appropriate for the student's height and age. This is also a requirement for students accessing ASTP.
All car seats and boosters in ASTP vehicles must:
- comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS1754
- be less than 10 years old
- be in good condition and checked regularly
- be installed correctly according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Parents are responsible for providing child car seats and boosters for use in ASTP vehicles. The make/model needs to be documented on the student's application (PDF 504.74KB) or change request form (PDF 237.73KB).
Drivers and vehicle operators are legally responsible for ensuring that child car seats and boosters are installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.
We recommend that all child car seats and boosters be fitted at an authorised fitting station. If the combined weight of the student and their child car seat is 32 kg or above then the child car seat must be secured using a reinforced anchorage point. These are also available at authorised fitting stations. Vehicle operators are responsible for the cost.
Students who use a wheelchair for mobility should not be transported in their wheelchair if they are able to transfer (even with assistance) into a child car seat or vehicle seat.
Many wheelchairs can be folded, which enables them to be safely stowed and secured in a vehicle. If a student's wheelchair needs to travel with them, please indicate this on the application or change request.
If a student needs to travel in a wheelchair, it needs to be in good repair and suitable for transport. If you are unsure whether the wheelchair is suitable for use in transport, please consult your student's therapist.
- wheelchair make and model
- type of backrest (rigid or not)
- type of headrest (or none)
- type of transport lugs/ brackets or stickers that identify location where chair can be secured
- type of accessories or equipment that need to travel with the student.
We also recommend that where applicable, the student's therapist is consulted to ensure that the student's posture and equipment have been recently reviewed.
By law, all passengers travelling seated in their wheelchair must use an occupant restraint i.e. lap/sash seatbelt. The wheelchair must also be secured to the vehicle floor.
The most common type of wheelchair tie-down is a four-point strap system that attaches to the specified tie-down points on the wheelchair. This system is separate to the passenger seatbelt.
The wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint system (WTORS) should comply with AS/NZS 10542 and always be used as per the manufacturer's instructions.
Hard trays and other equipment mounted on the wheelchair are to be removed for travel and secured safely in the vehicle. Consult a vehicle engineer or certifier that specialises in disability-specific modifications for further advice.
It is important to be aware that there are minimum clearance spaces required around the wheelchair, the user and WTORS in the vehicle. This reduces the potential for injuries during a crash. Details of the requirements can be found in AS/NZS 3696.19:2009.
Should you have concerns regarding a student's posture, fit or the condition of their wheelchair, please report this to the school and ASTP.
The Australian Standards relevant to the transportation of people seated in wheelchairs can be purchased from SAI Global:
- AS/NZS 3696.19:2009 (Wheeled mobility devices for use as seats in vehicles)
- AS/NZS ISO 16840.4:2014 (Seating Systems for use in motor vehicles)
- AS/NZS 10542.1:2009 (Wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems – requirements and test methods for all systems)
- AS/NZS 10542.2:2009 (Wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems – four-point, strap type tie down systems).
Aids and appliances
Some students need to have access to medical equipment on transport or travel with accessories. Examples include trays, oxygen cylinders, feeding pumps, suction units, ventilators and batteries communication devices or other aids and appliances.
This equipment needs to be safely secured and stowed in transport vehicles. If a student needs to travel with medical equipment and/or accessories, please contact the education team at email@example.com to discuss the student's individual needs.
Specialised equipment and instructions need to be listed as part of the student's health care plan for transport.
Mobile phones in ASTP vehicles
The ASTP recognises that students accessing assisted travel services often require access to mobile phones or other electronic devices in vehicles, especially when these devices play an integral role in assisting with meeting sensory needs and/or communication during travel.
In allowing students to access mobile phones on ASTP services it is necessary to consider any safety implications which may preclude some students from using or possessing a phone.
Where phones are permitted to be used, the following guidelines should be followed:
- Mobile phones can only be used for what the Department of Education considers ‘acceptable’ reasons e.g., to call family, access appropriate video games, music, and information etc.
- They must be used responsibly and respectfully and must never be used to access inappropriate content or for what is perceived as bullying or derogatory comment.
- They must not be used to film or sound record other students on transport, or drivers, Assisted Travel Support Officers, teachers and school support staff assisting the on- and off-boarding of students.
The ASTP works closely with schools to develop individualised student travel plans which can include appropriate use of mobile phones or other electronic equipment.
It is recommended that schools discuss the use of mobile phones during the creation, and any subsequent revision, of the student's health care or behaviour support plan for transport, as appropriate, with the ASTP Education Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specialised equipment for behaviours of concern
Some students with disability travelling in a vehicle may have behaviours of concern that pose a risk of injury to themselves or other occupants.
At times, students may need to use equipment such as a seatbelt buckle guard cover or travel harness to keep them safe. This option should only be considered when all other alternatives and support strategies have been explored in accordance with ASNZS4370 Restraint of children with disabilities, or medical conditions, in motor vehicles.
For more information, please contact the education team at email@example.com to discuss the student's individual needs.
Travel harnesses are expensive for parents to purchase and we recommend that the family engage the services of an occupational therapist and psychologist/behaviour support practitioner before a student application or change request form is submitted.
Regular review of harnesses and belt buckle covers used in transport is recommended. This is to see if the student can travel independently without one or if they have physically outgrown the current harness. The use and installation of harnesses in vehicles need to comply with the suppliers or manufacturer’s instructions.
To use a seat belt buckle guard cover or a travel harness parents are required to obtain a letter from a doctor stating that the student has a disability and identifying the need for the equipment.
The letter needs to be dated and written on official letterhead. In NSW this letter is a legal requirement for belt buckle guard covers. It is also a legal requirement that a copy of this letter is kept in the vehicle at all times.
If students are using belt buckle covers and/or travel harnesses a webbing cutter must be carried in the vehicle at all times. In all cases where specialised transport equipment is used on assisted school travel, it must be included in a current transport behaviour support plan.
If you have any questions about specialised transport equipment for students please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 338 278.