FACING THE FACTS OF CHILD CAR SAFETY IN 2017
Growing up I remember there being messages during prime time television about the importance of car seats. They demonstrated the impact of an accident on a child that wasn’t buckled in. Unfortunately, as I am able to recall, that message didn’t resonate with too many parents. Sadly, this is including my own as I don’t recall ever being buckled in. Child safety in cars back then wasn’t a priority and it seems that in 2017 not much has changed.
Although we have a car seat for our son, there have been moments he has nagged about how it’s not comfortable. Or that he can’t see the cars drive past. As a result, we have allowed him to sit at the back unbuckled. Yes, I point fingers at my parents but I too from time to time, knowing full well of the importance of having our son buckled up, am guilty of not complying with this regulation. The excuse often used is that “we’re only driving down the road”. Guess what, a study has shown that 52% of car accidents happen within an 8km radius of the family home! Today with so much awareness, there are many parents amongst my circle of friends, who can easily afford a car seat for their children, yet still, see it as a luxury rather than a necessity for the family.
“DID YOU KNOW – only 7% of children in South Africa are strapped in“
Yes, only 7%! Maybe this fact will give you a little more perspective when you suddenly have to stop. In a crash, the body takes on the weight of the speed you were travelling multiplied by your weight. Now imagine your toddler weighing in at say 20kg, multiply that by a speed of just 60km (yes I know most of the time we’re driving a lot faster). If your child isn’t strapped in, their small (in size) body becomes an incredibly heavy (1200kg) projectile and can critically injure themselves or anybody else in the vehicle or be ejected from the car themselves.
Consider that even driving up the road at 40km per hour, the impact on your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car as a result of a sudden stop will be similar to dropping your child from a height of 6 metres (a second story balcony) onto the concrete floor below. I would never be able to live with myself knowing that my child was just another statistic and possibly part of the 75% of children that are ejected from a car and die. Those children that may survive are permanently disabled, and all because a parent could not be a responsible adult, be firm and encourage their child to buckle up!
DID YOU KNOW – “car passenger deaths are the 4th leading cause of death in children in South Africa!“
As your child grows older so should their car seat adapt with them. All the way to a booster seat roughly until they are 12 years old or older if still feasible. Our son seems much older than he actually is, so the booster seat is already a necessity for him. Should the unfortunate have occurred during those moments that we have driven around without him being buckled into his booster seat and with only the standard car seat belt on, he would not have been protected!
HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR CHILD IS BOOSTER SEAT READY?
If your child’s head is more than 1 inch (2.54 cm) below the top of their current seat (or their head is outside the protective shell of the seat) they are definitely ready for the next seat up.
Ideally, your child should be in their booster seat for as long as possible or until the adult seat belt fits correctly. This is normally around the age of 12 years or as soon as they are over 1.5m tall. The booster seat boosts your child high enough for the standard car seat belt to safely restrain them.
The car seat belt is designed for an adult that is over 1.5m tall as it distributes the force of a crash to the body’s strongest points, those being the mid-shoulder, chest and pelvis. I’m sure you’ve seen on your own child when they put on the standard car seat belt, that it sits on their 2 most vulnerable points, their neck and their belly area that contains all of their vital organs.
They are not protected in case of an accident. If, like our son, your child looks older, take note that a child’s neck bones don’t begin to fuse until they are 3 years old. It takes about another 3 years for this process to complete. This means it’s only when a child is 6 years old that their neck can cope with the forces of a car crash. Even if your child is already 12 years old but under 1.35m tall, it’s still safer to use the booster seat. The 36kg weight limit is a given average, so if your child is under 1.35m tall and weighs over 36kg, the booster seat is a lot safer until they are taller.
BUYING A NEW CAR SEAT
If you’re in the market for a new car seat, #CarseatFullstop is a very proud retailer for the BeSafe car seat range in South Africa. Should you purchase a BeSafe car seat through them, the profits go towards maintaining this initiative! If you would like to ensure that your little one is as safe as can be, be sure to join this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/supportcarseatfullstop/ or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for the old car seat, why not donate it to Wheel Well so that they can rehome it. Regardless of the condition of the car seat they will clean and refurbish the seats that can be made safe or dispose of those that cannot be safely used, responsibly. There are parents that can’t afford this vital investment new that can mean the difference between life and death for a less fortunate child.
With statistics indicating that up to 93% of parents aren’t strapping their kids in safely in South Africa…you need to realise that we ALL know somebody who is adding to that percentage and that you can make a difference.
“You have the power to save a little life. One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life. #CarseatFullstop. Every child. Every time. No matter what.”