Despite constant progress in terms of vehicle safety, road traffic accidents still represent the number one causes of fatalities amongst children under the age of 10.
Regardless of it being law that every child under the age of 3 be securely strapped into a car seat, a shocking 93% of motorists, taxi and bus services flaunt this law, which is not effectively enforced by local and national police. The majority of injuries, through car accidents, are due to a complete lack of any kind of child safety restraint.
“Child Passenger Safety week runs internationally from the 17th to the 23rd of September, and we at Maxi-Cosi really want to get people talking about the importance of our children’s safety in motor vehicles in South Africa.,” says Debbie Billson, Operations Director for Maxi-Cosi, who have been the driving force behind Child Passenger Safety Week since its inception 7 years ago in SA. “The theme for our campaign this year is – Love Clicked In – our aim is to raise awareness for the importance of our children’s safety in motor vehicles. We want to educate and inform South African road users of the dangers of travelling on our roads with children who are not securely strapped into a car seat, as well as ensuring the car seat they use has undergone the minimum crash testing required. Clicking our children into a well secured car seat needs to become something every single one of us do, no matter how short a car trip we are doing!”
An adult holding a child in their arms provides absolutely no protection in the event of an accident. In a crash at a speed of 50 km/h, body weight is increased by around 30 times. For example, a child weighing approximately 30 kg turns into a projectile weighing a ton. At the point of impact, no-one is capable of restraining them. The strength of the impact is equal to falling 3 stories. A recent study conducted by Arrive Alive found that seatbelt usage is much lower in Central Business Districts in South Africa, suggesting that road users believe that in low-speed environments a seat belt is unimportant! While at the same time the Red Cross Memorial Hospital treats an average of 20 child passengers every month as a result of a car accident!
While children under the age of 3 are legally required to be securely restrained in a car seat, standard seat belts in most cars are designed for adult passengers 150cm and taller, leaving children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old requiring additional support in the form of a booster seat. “Children under 150cm are not safe just being secured by a seat belt, they are physically not developed enough to be secure,” says Bilson. “The lower belt doesn’t sit on their hips, as it is intended to do with adults, and rather ends up around their abdomen, which can result in fatal internal injuries in the case of a crash. The upper section of the belt rests dangerously across their neck, as opposed to being on their shoulder, and can easily break a child’s neck in the case of an accident! A simple booster seat can prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.”
South African consumers are fortunate to have a large selection of well-tested, reasonably priced car seat options, there is no excuse not to be using one! “The average car seat costs only 1% of the value of most cars in SA,” exclaims Billson. “For the average lifespan of a car seat it works out to less than R2 per day to ensure your child is safe – show your child the ultimate form of love by clicking them into a secure car seat that will keep them safe when you are on the road!”
Why we should all Click in – Busting the myths and boosting the facts around child passenger safety:
Myth 1 – Its safe to place a car seat in the front passenger seat.
Fact – The backseat is the safest place for a car seat, and its recommended to avoid placing car seats in the from passenger seat, especially if it has an active airbag.
Myth 2 – I don’t need to buckle my child if we are only going a short distance!
Fact – Car crashes can happen anywhere, even on short trips. It’s essential to always buckle up your child in an appropriate car seat, regardless of the distance.
Myth 3 – Once my child reaches a certain age, they can use an adult seat belt.
Fact – Children should use a booster seat until they can properly fit in an adult seat belt, typically when they reach a height of 150cm and are between 4 and 12 years old.
Myth 4 – One car seat fits all age groups.
Fact – It’s important to select a car seat based on your child’s current height and weight to ensure proper safety and protection in case of a collision.”
Myth 5 – The height of the safety harness doesn’t matter.
Fact – Adjust the safety harness to the correct height, which should be at shoulder level, to prevent children from unbuckling themselves, or suffering from head flops during a collision.”
Myth 6 – Rear-facing car seats are only for infants.
Fact – Rear-facing car seats are safest for babies and toddlers up to at least 15 months old. The extended rear-facing position helps distribute collision forces and reduces the risk of neck injuries.
Myth 7 – Children can wear thick coats in car seats.
Fact – Bulky coats can compromise the effectiveness of the harness. Instead, use the coat as a blanket over the harness to keep your child warm.
For more information about Child Passenger Safety Week please visit https://www.facebook.com/childpassengersafetyweek/