By Emsie Martin
A busy parent sometimes finds it a nuisance to first buckle up the children in the child restraints every time they quickly have to go somewhere. Regardless of legislation that makes the use of child restraints compulsory for children under the age of three, very few people see it as necessary to belt their children up when they drive. Yes, it is a nuisance but statistics show why it is necessary even if you drive only one block far.
Look around in the mornings when you drop the children or drive somewhere. You see toddlers unrestrained on front seats or standing behind the seats to see better. Parents use excuses such as “we are busy in the mornings and it is a rush to get everybody ready in time”, or “there simply isn’t time for a tantrum because a child does not want to be fastened’”.
Many parents think it is safe to hold their baby in their arms or on their laps when they drive. Research has shown that you have less than half a second to react if you have to brake unexpectedly or during a collision. You yourself may grab hold of something and let go of your child.
The amendments to the National Road Safety Act (Act 93 of 1996) took effect on 30 April 2015. Regulation 213 of the Act stipulates that as of 1 May 2015 it will be illegal for a child up to and including the age of three years to sit on somebody’s lap in a car or to stand in a car or to sit in a car in any way without being secured.
Regulation 213 describes the requirements for a safety belt inside a car. Number 6(A) was added to these regulations to make provision for the securing of children.
Number 8 of this regulation was also amended and provides that a child restraint must comply with the standards specification SABS 1340: Child restraints in motor vehicles. The device must have a mark of approval.
When you choose a child restraint, you should get one according to your child’s weight. If the child is buckled in on a type of restraint that is wrong for his age or weight, or if the belts or harness are not properly secured or are even loose, there is a bigger chance that the child will get hurt or even die in the event of an accident
According to Wheels Well child restraints are designed to keep children safe and they can decrease child deaths by up to 71% and injuries by 67% if they are used correctly. Do visit https://www.wheelwell.org.za/.
According to Russel Meiring, communication officer of ER24, it has been proved several times that seat belts save lives. Children can sustain serious injuries and even die if they are not fastened properly and the car is involved in an accident. Do not think that nothing will happen to your children if you just go to the café quickly. Accidents happen any place any time.
Hints for using child restraints
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you install a child restraint or put your child in it.
- Make sure that the restraint complies with the necessary safety standards.
- The belts must fit and not be too slack or tight.
- The belts must be below the shoulders if your child faces backwards and above the shoulders if he faces forward.
- Make sure that the belts are not twisted as this could lower their efficiency in a collision.
- If you buy a second-hand child restraint, only do so if you know its history or know that it comes from a good source. Do not buy a restraint that was in an accident or if the belts, buckles and points of attachment are worn.
- Try to have your child face backwards as long as possible. This position is recommended for up to the age of three, but preferably it should be used until later.
- If the child faces backwards and there is a frontal collision, the impact of the collision is spread over his whole back and head. If he faces forward his head is more exposed.
- Make sure that the child restraint does not hop more than 2,5 cm forward or sideways.
- Toys can injure your child during a collision and should therefore be soft.
- Set a good example by always buckling up.
Although child restraints are very expensive, one cannot put a price on a child’s life. Better to be safe than sorry. Each child should be buckled up in a child restraint in a car.
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