Seatbelt and car seat safety
Posted on 17 December 2015
Wearing a seatbelt saves lives – and so does putting your child in a car seat.
Gavin Edwards, A North West branch manager for ER24, says although many people use child car seats, some don’t ensure their children are strapped in correctly. Referring to a recent car accident where the car seat wasn’t strapped in properly, Gavin says: ‘The baby seat became a projectile with the baby in it. During the crash, the baby and car seat landed between the mother and the dashboard.’
He further cautions that some parents allow their children to stand in vehicles. ‘Others think by driving slowly nothing will happen. You do not need high speed to injure or kill someone. Also, it is impossible to restrain a child during an accident if you put your hand out. The child and person doing the restraining can sustain injuries,’ he explains.
It is now also a legal requirement. The Minister of Transport introduced a new regulation to the National Road Traffic Act whereby officially as of 1 May 2015, all children under three have to be strapped into a car seat when travelling in a car. Furthermore, international guidelines also indicate that car seats should continue being used until age five, and then booster seats need to be used until the seatbelt fits properly.
Superintendent Edna Mamonyane, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, says: ‘Most accidents that involved children who were not restrained resulted in death or serious injuries. If a baby cries, let them. Don’t take them out of the car seat. Parents must stop thinking that because they love their children they can allow them to do as they please in a vehicle.’
Professor Sebastian van As, head of the trauma unit at Cape Town’s Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, says: ‘Every year we see between 200 to 300 children at the hospital for injuries sustained in vehicle collisions, and 80% of these children were not restrained in either a car seat or seatbelt.’ He adds that children under the age of six can’t assess danger by themselves and are dependent on adults to protect them.
Find the perfect car seat fit
According to ER24, this is how to find the right car seat for your child:
• Children should be placed in a rear-facing seat until they’re at least a year old. When they exceed the weight and height limit set by the manufacturer, you should keep them rear-facing in a convertible safety seat. It’s best to keep toddlers rear-facing for as long as possible.
• When children have outgrown these options, you must use a forward-facing safety seat with a full harness. Always check the weight and/or height limits.
• When your child outgrows the convertible safety seat, usually only at age five, you should get a booster seat until they’re at least four feet tall.
• Once your child is tall enough to wear an adult seatbelt they should travel in the back seat until they’re 13 years old. Adjust the seatbelt so the lap belt crosses your child’s upper thighs and the diagonal belt crosses the upper chest at a point between the neck and shoulder.