Car crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under. Unrestrained children are more likely to be injured, suffer severe injuries and die in car crashes than children who are restrained.
“Child safety seats and safety belts, when installed and used correctly, can prevent injuries and save lives,” explains Barend Smit, marketing director at MotorHappy, a Motus Corporation Company that provides motor management plans such as extended warranties, service and maintenance plans and car insurance.
According to Arrive Alive, families should follow these safety tips on every ride:
- 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 if an airbag is deployed on impact. Even with advanced airbags 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 who are at least a year old, weigh nine to 18 kilograms and can no longer ride in rear-facing seats should ride in forward-facing child safety seats.
- Children over 40 pounds 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 8.
- Once the vehicle safety belts fit children, both lap and shoulder belts should be used correctly.
- Install and use your child safety seat or seat belt according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual.
- Ensure your child safety seat has not been recalled.
Don’t leave kids in the car
Never leave your kids alone in the car, even if it’s for a short while. It’s not safe for them from a crime point of view, plus they can overheat quickly.
Follow safe driving rules
Your kids might be safely restrained, but you also need to up your safe driving skills to prevent an accident. When driving, avoid the following:
- Fiddling with a GPS
- Applying makeup
- Turning around to speak to the kids or deal with a fight
- Drive with anything on your lap
- Drive with headphones
All these shift your focus away from driving, and in some cases, they take your eyes off the road.
Check your car’s safety and maintenance
Don’t forget that the best way to keep your family safe on the road is to make sure your car is in good working conditions, with regular services and vehicle maintenance. “Car maintenance is an important factor in your family’s safety on the road,” says Smit. So many accidents on SA’s roads are a result of vehicle neglect. It doesn’t matter how good you are at driving, if it starts raining and your windscreen wipers aren’t working, you will most likely have an accident. If you’ve neglected to replace worn brakes, there’s not much you can do if they fail.”