Seat belts and kids – what the experts say

“Motor vehicle crashes are still taking children’s lives at an alarming rate. We know that correctly restraining them dramatically cuts their risk of injury and death,” said Dr Martin Eichelberger, CEO of the National Safe Kids Campaign in the USA.

The US Department of Transportation, as well as the National Safe Kids Campaign, have been the leading role players in the world on child safety.

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children aged 14 and under. Child safety seats and safety belts, when installed and used correctly, can prevent injuries and save lives. Unrestrained children are more likely to be injured, suffer severe injuries and die in motor vehicle crashes than children who are restrained.

Many parents underestimate the importance of correctly using child safety seats for every ride. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading killer of kids, in part because nearly a third of children ride in the wrong restraints for their age and size, and four out of five child safety seats are used incorrectly.

Baby sleep in the Baby Car Seat

Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip.

Children 12 and under should be properly restrained in a back seat. A back seat is generally the safest place for a child to ride. While airbags can save lives, kids riding in the front seat can be seriously injured or killed when an airbag deploys in a crash. Even with advanced or no airbags, the back seat is safer for children.

Never put a rear-facing child in a front seat with an active frontal airbag.

Choose the right child safety seat or safety belt for your child’s size and age. Make sure you have the right seat for your child.

Infants should ride in rear-facing safety seats as long as possible until they are at least 12 months old and weigh at least nine kilograms.

Children at least one year old weighing 10 to 20 kilograms and unable to ride in rear-facing seats anymore, should ride in forward-facing child safety seats.

Children over 20 kilograms should be correctly secured in belt-positioning boosters or other appropriate child restraints until the adult lap and shoulder belts fit correctly, usually around age eight.

Once the vehicle safety belts fit children, both lap and shoulder belts should be used correctly.
Install and use your child’s safety seat or safety belt according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual.

The wearing of seat belts are compulsory and buckling up is the simplest way to save your child’s life.

Little baby child fastened with security belt in safety car seat

“Studies in the United States have shown that wearing seat belts could have prevented 75 percent of injuries in children under the age of four, and 50 percent in children aged four to 12,” said the head of the emergency and trauma unit at St Dominic’s Hospital, Dr Jeanne-Marie van der Westhuizen.

“We are failing our children by not enforcing the law, by not using common sense and by not teaching our children to buckle up.”

It is compulsory for passengers and drivers to wear seat belts in terms of regulation 213(4)of the National Road Traffic Regulation, under the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No 93 of 1996). Cognisance should also be taken of the prohibition by Regulation 213(5) of a person occupying a seat in a motor vehicle not fitted with a seat belt, while those fitted with seat belts are not occupied.

Sources: Arrive Alive / National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No 93 of 1996) / www.childsafe.org.za