1239 children (up to the age of nine years old) were killed in car crashes last year. While the RTMC crash data is not specific, one could assume that at least half that number were passengers.
“It is not only common sense but a legal obligation for parents or care givers to ensure that children travelling in motor vehicles are restrained properly in an approved child restraint, regardless of their age, no matter how short or long the journey is,” says the Automobile Association. Types of injuries sustained by children and infants who are not properly restrained can be severe head and spinal cord injuries and strangulation.
According to the Child Accident Prevention Foundation (CAPFSA) national statistics indicate that 84% of children travel in cars without any car seat restraint or seat belt discipline. Each year, thousands of children are killed, permanently injured or suffer life-long disabilities as a result of car crashes.
At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone an average of 20 children a month are treated for injuries sustained in vehicle crashes.
Child restraints reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. “The best chances of survival or to minimize injury to anyone in a motor vehicle collision is to wear a seatbelt,” says the AA. “Babies and young children’s bodies are not suited to normal seatbelts and therefore suitable child restraints are vital to protect the child,” concludes the AA.
Young people walking along the roadside are also especially vulnerable and should always be accompanied by an older person for their own safety. Motorists are urged to drive with their lights all the time on to make their vehicle more visible, and, more importantly, slow down near pedestrians and expect the unexpected from them.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126