Car seats: what every parent should know (Part 1)
30 Jul 2018 FAMILY
By: Natasha Archary
Being the resident “mommy” blogger means I’m often roped in on parenting conversations both in office and outside. I’m often baffled at how inexperienced most new parents are, not that I am in any way claiming to be an expert on things (we all know how I feel about that term in relation to parenting) that I have to address a really important safety issue. Car seats, why they are necessary and what every parent needs to know about them.
My soon-to-be four- year-old has recently outgrown his second car seat (Group/Stage 2). At a strong 18 kg, the straps on his harness were no longer clipping in securely and that meant this mommy would need to order a new one. It happened last week, so not quite at the “right time” budget wise. I had not penned this into the month’s expenses and that’s the thing about parenting isn’t it? If things happened exactly the way we planned them, well we’d all need a little less red wine and have a bit more of our sanity intact.
One thing was certain, there was no way I’d be driving him around without a car seat. It gives me peace of mind knowing he’s secure whilst I’m driving. Not only that, but that he’s comfortable, neck and back supported and secure. What I fail to understand is the logic of parents who don’t see the importance of a car seat.
I once stopped a mom at the mall, who plonked her three-year old onto the backseat of her car, without strapping him in let alone securing him into a car seat before she drove off.
“He just gets out of his seat, trust me it’s less stressful this way.”
I stood there looking at her in absolute shock, watching the little boy hold onto the headrest of the car as his mom sped off. Walking to my car, shaking my head, strapping my son into his seat, it played on my mind for a while. I realised there are so many parents who do the same thing and shrug nonchalantly about it.
Against the law
It’s not only dangerous, but against the law. South African law prohibits parents from driving with infants younger than three years of age, without a child seat. Of course, every passenger older than three would need to be buckled up, there is no stipulation that older children should be strapped into a car seat. Perhaps this is the grey area with motorists. Despite being passed in April 2015, parents are still being irresponsible with the safety of their children in their vehicles.
Many resorting to sitting with the child on their lap. Sometimes fastening a seatbelt over the adult and child, but more often than not, failing to do even that. A child is between the ages of three and fourteen, but until 2015 there was no legislation about infants from newborn to three years. The law does need some revision, because a three year old should not simply be buckled on the backseat with the regular car seatbelt or on the lap of an adult.
- In the event of a crash, the body takes on the force of the speed you were travelling as follows: your body weight multiplied by the “weight” of the speed. So if your child weighs 13 kg, and you were travelling at 60 km per hour, your child will take on a weight of 780 kg. Scientifically, it would be impossible for an adult to securely hold onto a child who suddenly weighs hundreds of kilograms, while you are also impacted by the same force.
- Children who are not properly secured in a car seat, move around freely while the car is in motion. On impact, the child could be severly wounded, with limbs or, worse, the neck being possibly lodged between the seats.
- A child who isn’t strapped into a car seat could easily be ejected through windows or the windscreen in a crash. There’s a high probability (75%) of the child not surviving if ejected in a crash, and those who do survive are more at risk of being physically disabled.
- The impact of an unrestrained child’s head on a window, windscreen or any other part of the car can be fatal, even if you were travelling at just 40 km per hour.
- Sitting on an adults lap is no safer. The trauma against their little bodies on impact is equivalent to 1500 kg, that’s almost 19 men weighing 80 kg.
- Children are curious, if you don’t have the child safety on your car doors, the child can open the car door while you’re driving. This applies to the car windows as well. You may not even notice them doing so, while driving. Children can fall out a moving vehicle. Why risk it?
This is why a car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make as a parent. I strongly advocate for the use of a car seat until your child is tall enough to be fastened to the backseat in the regular seatbelt (Thirteen and up).