As of 1 May 2019, drivers are now obligated by South African Law to have infants between the ages of 0 and 3 strapped into a car seat when travelling in a vehicle on South African roads. An obvious gap in the National Road Traffic Act of South Africa has finally been addressed by the Minister of Transport. Previously, the law required that children between the ages of 3 and 14 be strapped in and buckled up, but no law existed that required children under the age of three be restrained in a car seat.
Statistics tell us that about 93% of children under the age of 12 in South Africa are not strapped in when in the car. For any who are conscious of the risks involved, this may come as a shock. Why are so many kids not protected in our vehicles? We chalk it up to a lack of understanding the importance of safety measures in the car when it comes to our children.
The Facts About the Dangers of Car Travel for Children
When you’re in an accident and the car slams on its brakes or hits something, your body takes on the weight of the speed you were traveling at multiplied by your actual weight. This means a baby that weighs 10kg will suddenly weigh 600kg if you are driving 60km an hour.
Upon impact, you have less than half a second to react. Science tells us that it is impossible for you to hold on to a child who suddenly weighs hundreds of kilograms on impact within the half second timeframe for a response.
If you use a seatbelt and your child is on your lap, it is also very dangerous. If an accident occurs while you are in this position, the child will be crushed on impact between yourself and the seatbelt because of the huge amount of force exerted on them in that moment (equal to 1500kg).
Speed plays a role too. If you’re driving 40km an hour with your child unrestrained, and their head touches any part of the car in an accident, it is like they have been dropped from a two-storey building! Even at only 25km an hour a little child who is not restrained can die from sudden impact or emergency braking, especially if they are next to the driver, on the front seat, or between the seats.
Accidents are the number one accurately recorded cause for non-natural deaths in kids under the age of 14 in South Africa. You can avoid becoming part of the statistic by taking measures to reduce risks when you travel. How can how you can keep your child safer in a vehicle? According to the experts, the biggest role-player is whether your child is in a car safety seat that is age appropriate and correctly installed.
Top Car Safety Measure: Child Safety Seats
According to studies, using child safety seats that are installed correctly for children under the age of four can lower the risk of hospitalisation after an accident by 69%! And, even more important, it reduces the risk of death by 71%! These researched stats help us realise how valuable strapping your child into a car seat really is.
To many people it seems like a trivial matter on the surface but restraining kids in safety seats protects them. It reduces risk by distributing the force of a crash to the strongest parts of their body. It lowers the risk of contact in the interior of the vehicle during a crash and reduces the severity of any injuries that might occur.
It will also stop them from being thrown out of the vehicle when impact occurs or colliding with other passengers. Because of how their weight changes in an accident and because children are smaller, they can easily be ejected from the car in an accident. Statistically 75% of children who are thrown from the vehicle die, and most of those who survive are permanently disabled.
Looking at the numbers, it becomes obvious that child safety seats are vital for the safety of your young passengers. Installing and correctly using an approved child safety seat that is appropriate for their age and size is the first and most important step towards keeping your kids safe in the car.
What Kind of Car Seat Does My Kid Need?
There are many kinds of car seats, and there is no one-size-fits-all seat. Babies should sit in a rear-facing infant car seat until they are at least 75cm tall or weigh at least 13kg. After this, you can get toddler seats that face forward or invest in a rear-facing seat that works until your child is 18kg. Rear-facing seats are the safest. Your third-stage seats that go up to 25kg even offer an option that is rear-facing in South Africa.
Seats that are safer tend to cost more, but if you cannot afford a car seat, there are charities in South Africa that can help you like Wheel Well and Drive More Safely. If your child has outgrown their car seat (according to the height and weight stipulated on the seat), they are no longer safe and need to move to a seat within their height and weight range.
Reduce your financial risks during accidents with car insurance. Get an Insurance Quote today to protect your family. By buckling up and securing your children according to regulations in a seat that fits them and is properly installed, you could save their life.
Prices quoted are correct at the time this article was published. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.