The schools are out. Trailers are being packed and excited kids are hopping into cars for much-anticipated holidays. “Sadly, there are going to be fatalities on our roads this festive season many of which will include children simply because they were not strapped in,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
If a vehicle is involved in a collision at 50kph and a baby is sitting on an adult’s lap on the front seat, the child will be hurled through the windscreen with an impact similar to that of falling from a three-storey window. Alternatively, the child will be crushed against the dashboard by the force of the adult’s body weight which is 30 times heavier at the moment of impact i.e. 45kg becomes 1360kg.
“Please parents invest in car seats for your children and strap them in this festive season and every day after,” says Olivier.
The law supports the use of baby seats with the child restraint law, as published in the 22nd National Road Traffic Amendment. “Besides the threat of a fine, should a driver be caught with a child not buckled in, the reality of what can happen to a child in the event of an accident should motivate drivers to do the right thing,” he says.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) has reported that road traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury deaths among under-fives in South Africa, with most of these a result of children not in car seats. Over and above that the majority of brain damage cases in children under the age of five are directly related to injuries sustained during car accidents.
“There are options for parents that feel they can’t afford car seats. Revamped second hand car seats are available at reduced prices at several stores around the country. Wheel Well in Johannesburg, for example, offers this service using a donation system,” mentions Olivier.
“Please also make sure that the car seat you select is appropriate for your vehicle. If you are unsure don’t hesitate to contact an RMI-member dealership or independent workshop. It is very important that the seat fits and is fitted correctly into the vehicle. Don’t let any factors come in the way of putting your child’s safety first. Let’s make sure they reach their holiday destination safely,” he concludes.