Child restraints and the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa

Did You Know?… Some Facts
  • National statistics show that 84% of children in South Africa, travel in cars without wearing their seatbelts.
  • Passenger deaths in children are the 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in our country (Medical Research Council) Not to mention all the injured children that suffer injury or disabilities on a daily basis.
  • At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone, approximately 20 children per month are treated for injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions. Eighty percent (80%) of these injured children were not buckled up or restrained in any way at all. Most of these injuries could have been prevented through appropriate restraining.
  • Car safety seats (child restraints) reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 % for infants, and 54 % for toddlers.
  • Even in a minor crash, an unrestrained child would be thrown around inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and others. They could be thrown from the car through one of the windows
What Does The Law Say?
  • Legislation stipulates that everyone in a motor vehicle should wear a seatbelt.
  • It is the driver’s responsibility and legal obligation to ensure that children are buckled up in a car safety seat (child restraint) or seatbelt where available.
  • An adult is guilty of a criminal offence if he/she should allow a child younger than 14 years to travel unrestrained in a motor vehicle equipped with seat belts or car safety seats.

Why Buckle Up?
  • It is not safe to carry your baby in your arms or a child on your lap in the car. Some parents believe they will be able to hold on to the baby or child. Research has shown that passengers have less than half a second to react in a collision or sudden stop.
  • When a vehicle collides or suddenly stops at 50-60km per hour the weight of occupants or objects in the vehicle multiply 30 - 60 fold. If a baby weighs 10kg the force at the moment of impact is equivalent to a weight of 300kg. No adult will be able to hold onto the baby or child. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite possibly seriously injuring (or even killing) anyone else inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be ejected from the car through one of the windows.
  • At 25km/hour a small child sitting or standing next to the driver can be killed in an emergency stop if its head hits the windscreen/interior of the car. 
  • At 40km/hour the blow to a child’s head is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters onto concrete.

Dangerous Practices
  • Never put your seat belt around yourself and your baby or child. If there is a crash, your baby or child could be crushed to death. The force against your child will be the equivalent to 30 adults, each weighing 50 kg, standing on top of the child. The force is tremendous.
  • Never buckle two children up in one seatbelt, this is dangerous and could lead to serious injury. A seat belt has only been tested with one occupant.
  • Traveling unrestrained at the back of a station wagon or “bakkie” is very dangerous.
  • Never use a car safety seat/child restraint on the front seat if there is an air bag.
  • Always place any loose items in the car boot.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe In The Car?
  • The safest way for children to travel in cars is in an approved car safety seat or seat belt that is suitable for their weight and size and also for your car.
  • A properly fitted child restraint keeps the child in their seat, preventing them from being thrown about inside or ejected from the vehicle. This reduces the likelihood of your child being killed or injured in a crash.
  • Using a car safety seat correctly makes a big difference.
  • All children under twelve years and younger should preferable travel in the back seat, buckled up!
  • Putting your child in a seatbelt, instead of in a car safety seat or booster cushion, before he/she is big enough, will put his/her life at risk of serious injury or death in a crash.
Travel Safety - Child Car Restraint/Safety Seat Guide For Children
The following categories of car child restraints are currently available:
Infant Car Restraint (Birth – 9-months/1 year/0-10kg)
  • Never use seat where there is an airbag. This can cause serious injury
  • Seat must be used facing rearwards at all times. In a collision impact will be on seat and not on baby.
  • Install with three point adult seat belt.
  • The baby is securely held in the seat by the harness.
  • It is safer to fit the seat in the rear of the car.
Child Car Restraint (Birth – 4/5 years/0-18kg)
  • There are a variety of seats available in this category
  • These seats should face the rear of the car until the infant is±10kg or 9 months old.
  • After this the seat can be turned around, facing forward.
  • The method of installation may vary from seat to seat. Some could be used with three point adult safety belts, lap belts or special anchorage straps.
  • Always follow manufacturers instruction on how to fit the seat
Booster Seats, (±4 - 6 years/15-25 kg)
  • These safety seats are light and versatile and can only be secured with a three point adult safety belt.
  • Could be used on front or back seat with adult safety belt but preferably on the back seat.
Booster Cushion (±6-11 years/22-36kg)
  • These cushions are used when children have outgrown the above-mentioned seats.
  • This seat will help position seat belt and improve view from the car.
  • Should always be used with three point adult belt.
  • Should be used until child has grown sufficiently to wear a seat belt usually at ±10 years (36 Kg).
Seatbelts (±10/11 years – 36 Kg’s)
  • Children are usually big enough to use a seat belt by the age of about 10/11 years.
  • To check that the seat belt fits correctly, the shoulder belt should go over the child’s shoulder and across the middle of his/her chest. The belt should not touch the neck.
  • The lap belt should fit low, over the hipbones, under the child’s belly area.
  • The child knees should be comfortable over the edge of the seat.
  • Three point seat belts (Lap and diagonal) provide greater protection than lap belts.
  • Lap belts are better than no belt at all.
Always buckle up your children, even for a short trip.

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