Ensure Child Safety in a Car for the Upcoming Holidays
As parents, we cannot afford to ignore this hard truth: if we don't do our part when it comes to child safety in a car, children and infants will end up dying due to our negligence. It's our responsibility to make the safety of our children our top priority and to take action to prevent any tragedies from happening.
With the Easter holidays just around the corner, many families will be hitting the road for holidays and getaways. While the excitement of a mini vacation can cause some organised chaos before and during the trip, it's important to remember to prioritise child safety while on the roads. From properly securing child car seats to buckling up and avoiding distractions, taking these steps and more can make a big difference in ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.
In an effort to make South Africa's roads safer for families, DEKRA, a leading expert in all things road safety, once again puts a spotlight on our incredible initiative to support child safety while travelling. More on the DEKRA Safe Child initiative down.
Let's check out why it's so important to put safety first when travelling during the upcoming long weekends and school holidays.
Road fatalities this past festive season and the statistics
On 17 January, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula released the 2022/2023 road safety statistics, which covered the 1 December 2022 to 11 January 2023 holiday period. This past festive season saw a total of 1 451 road fatalities, which is a notable decrease of 13.9% from 2021's 1 685. Sadly, this number is still too big, and it highlights the need to prioritise child safety, particularly as it includes child and infant fatalities.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) statistics in 2021, 7% of South Africa's road accident deaths involving passengers were children under the age of 14.
The latest mortality statistics, released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), show that road accidents account for 4.2% of all unnatural deaths in infants under a year old and 15.5% of deaths in children between the ages of one and 14 years old.
International studies support the effectiveness of seat belts and car seats for infants and children
Studies and research from various countries have shown that the use of car seats and seat belts can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in children involved in motor vehicle crashes.
For example, a study conducted in Canada found that the use of appropriate car seats and booster seats could reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 75% for children aged 1 to 4 years old, and by 59% for children aged 4 to 8 years old. Another study from New Zealand reported that the use of child car seats reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 60-70% for children under four years old.
Similarly, a study from the United Kingdom showed that children using appropriate car seats were 70-80% less likely to be injured or killed in a crash compared to those who were unrestrained. These statistics may vary by country depending on the type and quality of car seats and seat belts used, as well as other factors such as road conditions, traffic patterns, and driving behaviours.
The DEKRA Safe Child Initiative
The aim of DEKRA Safe Child is to offer donated car seats to families who are unable to purchase new ones in order to promote child safety in a car. To achieve this, DEKRA relies on the generosity of the public, who can donate any car seats they no longer need or find unusable.
DEKRA Safe Child is just one of the ways in which DEKRA gives back to the community by working to reduce the number of children who are impacted by road accidents. This hits home extra hard when, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 186 300 children under the age of 18 die from road traffic accidents every year.
Garth Johnson, DEKRA CEO, said the following about this worthy project: "Through DEKRA Safe Child, we invite members of the public to donate previously owned child car seats that they no longer need or are in an unusable condition at any one of our 49 vehicle inspection and roadworthy branches countrywide, in exchange for a free vehicle safety check. DEKRA will ensure that the seats reach those who cannot afford the price of a new one. The locations and contact details of our branches can be found here on our website."
If you want to make a meaningful contribution to your community, donate your unused car seat to DEKRA Safe Child. Wheel Well and DEKRA will collaborate to ensure that all car seats are in working condition before redistributing them to deserving families. Your car will also receive a free safety check as a token of our appreciation when you donate your car seat at one of our 49 branches across the country. Click/tap here to find a branch near you.
If you are hitting the roads for the upcoming school holidays or long weekends, we've compiled a list of tips to keep in mind when travelling with infants and toddlers:
- When it comes to child safety in a car, always use the appropriate car seat for your child's age, height, and weight.
- Make sure the car seat is installed correctly and securely before driving.
- Position the car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.
- Ensure that your child is correctly and snugly harnessed in the car seat.
- Do not dress your child in bulky clothing that could interfere with the proper fit of the car seat straps.
- Take regular breaks during the trip to allow your child to stretch their legs, use the bathroom, and get some fresh air.
- Pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks to keep your child hydrated and energised.
- Bring along some of your child's favourite toys or games to keep them entertained during the journey.
- Keep a first-aid kit in the car that includes any essential medications or medical equipment that your child may need.
- Never leave your child alone in the car, especially on hot or sunny days.
- Be a good role model by always wearing your seatbelt and obeying all traffic laws.
The upcoming time off is the perfect time for families to take a break and spend some quality time together. However, before embarking on your getaways, it's crucial to prioritise child safety in a car. Statistics have shown that many road accident deaths and injuries involve children, which is why experts recommend using car seats and seat belts for children of all ages. DEKRA's Safe Child initiative aims to provide car seats to families who can't afford them, and you can help by donating your used seats at their branches across the country. Don't forget to book your car for a Safety Check or a Multi-Point Check before setting off on your next family adventure.