When we find out we are expecting a baby, our to-do list starts filling up. We have to decide on names, nursery décor, which hospital to birth at,dummies and bottles to use, to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, but do we take the time to research car seats, the different types available, and the importance of their positioning in the vehicle?
I don’t think so.
Its only recently that the Minister of Transport introduced a new regulation to the National Road Traffic Act whereby all children under three-years-old will have to be strapped into an appropriate and correctly installed car seat when travelling in a car. Children over 3 and under 14 or 1.5m tall must be in a car seat if one is available. If no seat is available the child must sit in the back on a seat with a seat belt on.
What is legal is not necessarily what is safest though, a small child is not adequately protected with a seat belt either as it poses many risks.
Please keep your older child in a booster seat until they are atleast 1.5m tall.
Did you know that rear facing your child is said to be 500% safer than forward facing? It is recommended that children remain rear facing until at least 2 years old, but preferably 4-7 years.
Please don’t rush off and turn your forward facing car seat around, unfortunately you have to have a car seat specifically designed to rear face.
South Africa’s car-seat safety awareness is dismal, so do not feel bad if you weren’t aware of this. But when we know better, we should do better.
It is law in Sweden that children rear face until 4 years old.
Read here to see why rear facing is necessary.
I too didn’t know that car seats were designed differently, and the correct installation is paramount, i had bought my kids what i thought were decent car seats, then i saw i had to turn them to forward face when they reached 9 kg, they reached 9 kg by the time they were 7 months old, what a waste of money, i managed to save to buy the Joie Stages.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine was driving at 80km an hour on a rainy day, aqua-planed , she lost control of her vehicle and it rolled a couple times. She had her 3 year old strapped securely in his Joie Stages car seat and he was completely unharmed.
Recently there was an unfortunate accident where a woman and her baby were fetched from Durban Airport, they didn’t have a car seat and so the mother held the baby, they had an accident, and the baby died instantly. Another story where a baby was on his grans lap, toddler in the back seat, the driver had an accident and the toddler was thrown through the windscreen, the baby was crushed by the grandmother. These are a couple of the very many stories, and the worst part is these deaths could have possibly been avoided if they were all aware about car seat safety.
It is important to note that failure to follow the law could result in criminal charges in the event a child is injured/killed in an accident.
Another fact that I only learnt of recently , is that currently the only car seats that that have been tested to forward face with the 5 point harness past 18kg are the Joie Bold and the Safeway Elegance, these forward face harness to 25kg.
This is when you need to use the seat belt strap in the forward facing booster.
My daughter is nearly 18 kg , turning 4 next month, I am not comfortable with her forward facing with just the seat belt, so upon researching my options and knowing I am unable to afford an imported car seat that rear faces past 18kg, (or the car seats I mentioned above), I have purchased a strap called “Belt Upp”, Please contact Born Fabulous for your nearest stockiest. They cost R499.
You may just be driving 1km and a slow speed, your child may be screaming bloody murder during your drive, but please, keep them strapped at all times. You never think it will happen to you until it does. You may be able to control how safely you drive, but it only takes one person to change your entire life.
Folks, the internet age has afforded us the ability to research car seats and their safety thoroughly. It should be one of the most important decisions you as a parent should have to make.
Knowledge is at our fingertips. You do not have to buy the most expensive car seat, but you do have to ensure your children are using them, and that they are strapped in 100% regardless of meltdowns and tantrums.
One in 3 road accidents happen a mile from home. Read here
There is a group on Facebook called “Car Seat Support South Africa” consisting of over 10 000 members that are extremely helpful when it comes to your car seat safety questions.
I will personally report any parent of an unrestrained child.
If you know of or see an unrestrained child, reckless driving etc, you can report it to RTMC 0861400800 or Info@rtmc.co.za.
Please use your dash cam, or ask your passengers to take photos and report it. You can also send all info to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send all that on.
Conclusion : It is illegal for children under 3 to not be in a car seat or for older children not to have a seatbelt on. As mentioned above, this is not what is safest, but a minimum law requirement. A booster seat is necessary at this age if your car seat is not able to rear face past a certain age.
Please share this information with anyone that you feel may benefit from it.
For Bend County Auto shared these photos onto Facebook recently, here you can see for yourself why knowledge on Car Seat safety is important.