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01/05/2015

Car seats for young children now mandatory

enca.com - As of today, children under the age of three must be strapped into car seats.

The new amendment of the National Road Traffic Act, which came into effect on May 1, makes child car seat use compulsory and motorists who don’t strap toddlers in can expect to be fined.

“Several motorists still refuse to take seriously the constant warnings and calls by emergency services and authorities to have children properly restrained in vehicles,” ER24 said in a statement last month, adding that while on the roads, paramedics noticed young children jumping on back seats, hanging out of windows and sitting on passenger’s laps. When confronted about this, parents said they never grew up with child car seats and they survived.

“Parents may also tell you that their children do not like being restrained and cry constantly. Some parents insist you not tell them what to do with their children. Times have changed.”

With the number of distractions on the road, the safest option was to restrain children and make them understand it was for their own safety, ER24 said.

“The sad truth is ER24 and other emergency services attend to horrific collisions involving children on a weekly basis. (The) majority of unrestrained children are flung out of vehicles and either sustain critical injuries or die in collisions.”

Arrive Alive statistics show that road accidents, including those involving pedestrians, are the leading cause of death for children under the age of five in South Africa.

But nationally, only 19 percent of drivers, 49,9 percent of front passengers and 92,4 percent of back seat passengers were found to be wearing seatbelts (at road blocks).

ER24 has the following advice:

Infants should ride rear-facing at least until they are a year old. Once they exceed the weight or height limit set by the manufacturer of the infant safety seat, they should ride rear-facing in a convertible safety seat. It is best to keep toddlers rear-facing as long as possible.

When they have outgrown this seat, they should use a forward-facing safety seat with a full harness. This should be used until they exceed the weight and/or height limit set by the manufacturer of the seat.

Children who have outgrown a convertible safety seat should use a booster seat until they are at least 1,3m tall.

Children who are tall enough to wear an adult seatbelt should still ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old. Adjust the seat belt so the lap belt crosses the child’s upper thighs and the diagonal belt crosses the upper chest at a point between the neck and shoulder. – ANA, ER24 and Staff Reporter



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