Motoring News

Be smart! Always give your kids a belt before driving

CHILD SEATS A MUST. Image: :Supplied

NO CHILD younger than three years old may be carried in a passenger vehicle in South Africa unless securely strapped into an approved child seat such as the one pictured above.

That’s not only the law, The Corner points out, but also the responsibility of any parent or other adult into whose care a child has been given. In fact no child or any other person should be carried without wearing a three-point anchored, crash-restraint belt.

Riding unrestrained in a car or other passenger vehicle is not only illegal but bloody downright totally stupid. In the case of a child, downright potentially murderous.

The Automobile Association of South Africa says road crashes are the second main cause of death among children aged five to 14 in South Africa. Ford SA spokesperson Kuda Takura warns that studies show children not properly restrained have a far greater chance of being killed or injured if unrestrained.

USE A BOOSTER SEAT IF NEEDED

Parents should double-check that a purchased child-seat will fit not only their family vehicle(s) but also others in which it might have to be used. An international study found 95% of new parents make at least one mistake when installing their child-seat. So, get the salesperson or other informed person to ensure your seat is properly installed.

Very young children should ride in a booster seat and secured properly for the journey, no matter how short. Many crahses  happen close to home – 52% within 8km of home, 77% within 25km.

A rear-facing child-seat is safest for infants; buy one that can face either way, able to be reversed as the child grows.

WATCH OUT FOR HEAD-FLOPPING

Derek Kirkby, a training director for Ford’s global Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme in SA, told The Corner: “Children shouldn’t ride in the front seat even when strapped into his or her car seat. The now almost universal ”crash bag” can inflate and hit the child in the face.

”Also take care to ensure the child-seat is reclined to prevent the head flopping forward. Babies, in particular, need to be placed semi-reclined so that their airway is kept open. Bear in mind that you may need to adjust the seat as your child grows.

When the child is large enough it’s important to introduce a booster seat as, at that point, most children might still not be tall enough or weigh enough to use an adult seat belt. Children must be about 1.5m tall and the lap belt should fit low acrosds their hips and pelvis and across the shoulder and chest.

  • Car seats have and expiry date so make sure you double-check your manual. Parents should also replace a car seat that has done its job in a collision even if it looks OK. This is also why parents are discouraged from reusing a child-seat for a second child or buying second-hand unless the seller can prove its history.

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