This Transport Month let’s ensure the protection of our youngest travellers on the road by paying close attention to correct car seat usage.
Regulation 213 of the National Road Traffic Act 1996 mandates the secure fastening of children under three years old in car seats while travelling and all occupants, including children, must be restrained by a seat belt in a vehicle.
Arrive Alive, in an article on Car Seats for Children and Road Safety in South Africa, underscores the importance of safety in cars for babies and toddlers, revealing that research shows correctly installed safety seat can curtail the likelihood of post-accident hospitalisation for children by a remarkable 69%. Due to their smaller size, children are particularly susceptible to being ejected from vehicles during an accident if not properly restrained.
Ronald Govender, Dis-Chem Baby City’s FMCG Executive, says the choice of seat is as important as correct installation in maximising the safety of babies and toddlers. He also provides parents with some essential tips on selecting the right car seat, exploring the world of car seat accessories, and embracing safety practices that ensure children’s well-being during every road trip:
- Choosing the right car seat
Navigating the numerous car seat options can be daunting as car seats are not a one-size-fits-all. Always select a National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS)-approved car seat that has adjustable features and that’s appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. Options include snug and secure rear-facing infant seats, convertible seats, and forward-facing booster seats. Typically, booster seats are advised until the child attains a weight of more than 18kg and a height of 145cm or reaches approximately ten years of age. Regularly verify whether your child still fits within the designated specifications of the car seat. Be sure to adhere to manufacturer guidelines to ensure maximum safety standards, and ease of installation.
- Harnessing the importance of installation
Car seats are proved to reduce injuries and deaths in children but are effective only if they are installed and used properly. A car seat is not just a purchase, it’s an investment in your baby’s safety. Choose a car seat that is easy to install correctly. Many modern car seats come with features like latch systems and clear indicators to ensure correct installation. It is important that the seat belt straps are free from twists or knots. Check the correct angle of the car seat’s base, which can often be determined by referring to the angle indicator or using the built-in adjuster.
Car seats for infants under one year of age or those measuring 80cm or less in height, should be in rear-facing positioning at all times. Rear-facing car seats are safer for toddlers because they absorb most of the crash forces and support the head, neck, and spine. In contrast, when children ride forward-facing, their heads are more likely to be thrown forward, which can cause serious injuries.
If your vehicle is equipped with ISOFIX points, you have the flexibility to choose a car seat featuring an ISOFIX connection or one that securely utilises your car’s seat belt. ISOFIX systems offer heightened safety measures by reducing the potential for human error during seat installation. In cases where ISOFIX points are not available, a car seat secured with a seat belt can be employed. It is imperative to have a clear understanding of correctly threading the belt and ensuring a snug fit for the car seat.
- Essential car seat accessories
Choosing the appropriate car seat is not about stylish looks but about maximising comfort, safety, and convenience for your little traveller. From weather-resistant covers to headrest pillows that have designs that are supportive and which shield your little one from harsh sun rays with window shades designed for car seats. These accessories not only provide protection, but also keep the back seat cooler on sunny days. Car seat organisers are a parent’s best friend. These compartments keep essentials like baby wipes, snacks, and small toys within arm’s reach, making on-the-go parenting a breeze.
- Keeping your little traveller happy
Car rides can be challenging for baby passengers. Transform the back seat into a cheerful haven of entertainment as an agitated bay can be distract the driver. Always make your baby’s car rides enjoyable with a selection of age-appropriate toys that attach securely to the car seat. Interactive toys can keep your baby or toddler engaged and entertained during the journey.