Child Restraints

Buckle up your child

20th January, 2014

Restraints cut the risk of serious injury by up to 75%

That terrible sense of doom you feel when you see a child unrestrained in a vehicle is your common sense screaming a portent of tragedy.

A child standing between mom and dad’s passenger seats in the car, or sitting without a seat belt in the front or back seat has nothing between it and the windscreen, or the back of mom and dad’s heads, or the window opening, through which it could be thrown, should the vehicle crash to a sudden and violent halt.

When passengers don’t belt up, there is nothing between them and disfigurement, debilitating injury and death.

Car crash is leading cause of injury death among under 5s

Road trauma kills more than 17 000 people in South Africa every year and, according to the Medical Research Council, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury deaths among children under five years of age. For every death, four people are seriously injured, with paralysis, brain damage, severe burns and dismemberment common.

DEKRA Automotive CEO, Garth Johnson, says, “It is time that, as a nation, we take vehicular safety seriously. Buckling up should be the first act of responsibility when entering a vehicle. By law, it is the adult’s responsibility to make sure that the child is secured, and by doing so you not only make the child safe, but you teach him or her to take responsibility for safety later on in life.”

Arrive Alive says the seat belt is the single most effective feature in a vehicle to reduce the severity of injury to the vehicle occupants that results from road traffic crashes. Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968 states: “The wearing of safety belts is compulsory for drivers and passengers of motor vehicles, occupying seats equipped with such belts, save where exceptions are granted by domestic legislation.”

Match the restraint to the child’s height and weight

In South Africa it is compulsory for occupants of all seats to use a seat belt. Children under 14 years of age must be safely secured by means of a child seat or other restraint adapted to their weight and size.

Child restraints are designed to match a child’s height and weight. When you buy a restraint you need to consider the size and weight of your child, and if the restraint will fit into your vehicle properly and securely. Young children should be strapped into booster seats. The child should be kept in the most appropriate restraint suitable for his or her size and age, and moved to the next category of restraint when the current category no longer fits the child.

Every crash has three collisions

Arrive Alive points out that three “collisions” occur in every crash where occupants are unrestrained. The first collision involves the vehicle and another object. The second collision occurs between the unbelted occupant and the vehicle interior, e.g. the driver hits his chest on the steering wheel or his head on the window. The third collision occurs when the internal organs of the body hit against the chest wall or the skeletal structure.

It is the second collision that is most responsible for injuries, and can be reduced significantly by the use of seat belts and child restraints.

How effective are car seats?

Research in the US by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that car seat use reduces the risk of death among babies by 71% and among toddlers aged 1 to 4 years by 54%. Booster seats cut the risk of serious injury by 45% for children aged between 4 and 8 years compared to seatbelt use alone, the CDC claims.

For drivers and front seat passengers, wearing a seatbelt halves the risk of fatal injury and cuts the risk by up to 75% for back seat passengers, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Use restraints, save lives

The vehicle restraint law is there to save lives, and by not adhering to it and not teaching our children to do the same, we fail our children and society at large.

DEKRA: No Mobility without Safety

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Research references for this article: