For many parents, the daily school run can be a stressful experience – making sure that children have everything they need for the school day, navigating through traffic and dealing with the morning’s excitement and anxieties. On top of all this, parents need to ensure that the children in their care are kept safe at all times with proper car seating and restraints. Children in the car – how to keep them safe:
New child car seat law
It’s sobering news that the Medical Research Council (MRC) stated that car crashes are the leading cause of injury and/or deaths among children under the age of five in South Africa.
As a result, in May 2015, a new regulation of the National Road Traffic Act came into play that children under the age of three are only permitted to travel in a car if they are secured in a car seat. Non-compliance with this law will result in a fine.
While the law forces parents to use child car seats for children under the age of three, older children should also be secured appropriately
How should my child be sitting in the car?
Use of the appropriate type of restraint for a child’s age, height, weight and physical limitations reduces death of children in cars by between 50% and 75%.
For children 12 and under, the safest place is the back seat, with the appropriate restraint per size.
Recommended child restraints:
- Infants and age 1-4: Rear-facing in the back of the car.
- Children 4-6, 15-25kg: Booster seat. Be sure to raise the position of the child so that the seatbelt is in the correct position.
- Children 6-11, 22-36kg: Raise the sitting position of the child so that the adult seat belt lies properly across the chest (across the shoulders, not the neck) and low across the pelvis.
Car seat tips
- It is best to keep toddlers rear-facing as long as possible. When they have outgrown this seat, they should use a forward-facing safety seat with a full harness until they exceed the weight and/or height limit set by the manufacturer of the seat.
- Children should use a booster seat until they are at least 1.2m tall.
- Children who are tall enough to wear an adult seat belt should still ride in the back seat until they are 13.
- And don’t forget your own seatbelt – it’s the law to wear it at all times.