Observance of child car seat laws worryingly low
Since the introduction of legislation that requires passengers under three years of age to be in a child seat, little has changed in the way many people transport children. According to the Automobile Association (AA) stricter enforcement of the law is needed along with more compliance among drivers.
“When the law came into effect in July last year we welcomed the change to the legislation, and called on authorities to ensure a wide education and enforcement campaign was launched to ensure infants get the protection the law provides. We are dismayed that too many people are failing to buckle up and protect children in the car,” the AA said.
The Association conducted informal observational research and found that less than seven percent of children in cars – deemed to require the use of safety seats – were using them. In many instances children are sitting in the front passenger seat without seatbelts, standing in the car while it’s moving, or at the very least are not in an age, weight and height appropriate car seat.
“This is extremely worrying and speaks directly to the poor attitude drivers have; not only are they disregarding the law, but they are risking their children’s lives. More needs to be done to enforce this law, otherwise its introduction would have been meaningless,” the AA noted.
Global research has shown that putting a child in a car or booster seat (which is properly fastened) reduces the chance of death or serious injury in crashes significantly. Despite this, many people still do not use car seats for their children using excuses such as: “I’m only driving a short distance”, or “I’m going to be driving overnight so there’ll be less traffic on the road”.
“There are many excuses people give for not strapping their children in when, in reality, there is no excuse good enough not to. Research shows that a properly fitted child seat will reduce the chance of injuries caused by a crash, and possibly even save a child’s life,” the AA said.
Apart from ensuring children are secured in a car seat, the AA noted that seatbelt wearing rates in South Africa are currently below 60%, meaning that countless lives are lost, families harmed, and communities impacted due to some motorists’ not wearing seatbelts.
"Considering how easy it is to put a child in a car seat, or use a seatbelt, we believe the attitude of some drivers needs urgent attention. We want to again urge every driver to buckle-up and be safe: it’s a simple, easy way to protect yourself," the Association concluded.