Toddler in footwell, unrestrained kids in back seat

Police are warning parents to buckle in children after a toddler was discovered asleep in the footwell of a car and two siblings unrestrained on the back seat when the driver was pulled over.

A Hamilton Police dog handler stopped the woman motorist on Wairere Drive in the north of the city for "concerning" driving at midnight on Wednesday.

The incident comes just weeks after a baby died from injuries after being thrown from her mother's lap in a car accident south of Te Kuiti, and a woman in Hamilton was seen breastfeeding her child in the front seat of a moving vehicle.

Waikato District Road Policing Manager Inspector Freda Grace said the three unrestrained children in the latest incident could have been killed and it was disappointing some adults did not heed warnings.

The sleeping girl in the footwell of the front passenger seat was 2 and the two children in the rear seat were 4 and 5.

"It's really unfortunate that she's got three children, part of our most vulnerable in our community, and for want of a restraint, hasn't done that."

She said it was worrying that safe decisions were not being made for children, who couldn't make those decisions themselves.

"Three young children could have come to something worse and that would be just a tragedy and they're tragedies that are so easily prevented," Mrs Grace said. "This is not about the enforcement. This is about the safety of these children in the vehicle."

The woman was breath tested and fined $150 and the children were restrained before she was allowed to continue home. It's not clear if there were car seats in the car.

Last month Alexandria "Lexie" Grace Navacilla died in Starship Children's Hospital after suffering critical injuries in a car accident on State Highway 4 near Aria in the King Country on May 19. The 12-week-old was one of six people in a five-seater Honda hatchback and was sitting unrestrained in her mother's lap in the backseat when the car slid across the road into a bank. Police found her car seat, which could have saved her life, in the car boot.

Her parents, originally from the Philippines, were travelling from their home in Taumarunui to Auckland.

That same week police reported a woman breastfeeding a baby while in the front seat of a moving car in Hamilton.

That incident came days after police stopped a woman driving in the city with two young children in the back seat who should have been in car seats but were instead strapped in with seatbelts.

The mother, who was breaching the conditions of her learner driver's licence when stopped, told the officer she was taking the 4- and 5-year-olds to see a doctor and that she did have car seats but her sister was using them.

- Natalie Akoorie of the New Zealand Herald

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