Child Care & Driving

Strap Your Children In

If you are a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle, or just anyone who transports children in their car frequently, then we urge you to read on. Whether it’s the school run, a drive to the shops, an extended trip for a holiday or an event, highway driving, city driving, any driving that you do with children in the car must include the child being safely secured within the vehicle. The other day we were on our daily commute to the office when we saw a lady in a small car, she had three children in the car, and not one was seated. There was a little boy standing on the front passenger seat and two young girls jumping around on the back seat. The thing that upset us the most was that the mother didn’t realize the potential danger of what she was allowing. She was singing
along to a song with her kids. Everyone seemed so happy. So you might say that it’s a common sight, children standing on the seats and sitting on parent’s laps. What’s also a common sight is that when there is a vehicle accident where children are present, most of those children pass away as a result of being flung from the
car. Don’t believe us? Well, according to Arrive Alive and the head of the department of trauma at Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, Professor Sebastian van As, if an accident happens and a child is thrown out of the car, there is a 75 percent chance that the child will not survive. The scary thing is what happens to your precious child during an accident. Let’s use that mother and her three children as a base. For argument’s sake, let’s that say that
she was travelling at 60km/h and that she wasn’t looking ahead and
didn’t notice that the car in front had come to a sudden stop. When
she does notice it’s too late, she does the natural thing and slams
on the brakes. She has a steering wheel and a dashboard in front of her, this can potentially slow her movement down in the event of an accident. She is also able to brace herself for the imminent collision. As for her little boy standing on the front seat, well he’s not so lucky. The impact, even at 60km/h will cause the boy to go flying over the dashboard and through the windscreen, onto the bonnet and into an area where he could end up under the vehicle.
The two little girls on the back seat will also be thrown forward
and potentially knock into one another or bash into the front seats,
or even be forced through the gap between the two seats. These children are at risk of breaking arms and ribs. If a vehicle is travelling at 60km/h, then its occupants are traveling at 60km/h. If that vehicle comes to a sudden stop and the occupants are strapped in, they too will come to a sudden stop, however, they will experience a violent forward force as the inertia is dissipated. If they are not strapped in, then even if the car has stopped, the occupants, and in this case a little boy is still travelling at 60km/h. There is nothing to slow him down besides the dashboard and the windscreen. Oh but what about the airbag? Well, most airbags are secondary safety items and do not work if the seatbelt is not engaged. Thankfully, the Minister of Transport has introduced a new regulation to the National Road Traffic Act whereby officially as of 1 May 2017, all children under threeyears- old will have to be strapped into a car seat when travelling in a car. Any child older than that needs to be buckled up. It’s a simple task that can potentially save your child’s life.

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