BACK TO SCHOOL: Children and seatbelt safety

International estimates say seatbelts reduce fatal injuries by 45%…

As many schoolchildren head back to school this week, it once again highlights the importance of looking after the most vulnerable passengers in a car. In many countries crashes are the leading cause of death in amongst youth between the ages of five and 24.

The use of seatbelts can greatly reduce this statistic. International estimates say seatbelts reduce fatal injuries by 45%. Knowing how to wear a seatbelt is something many drivers and passengers take for granted. Thus, it may come as a surprise to hear that many children not only do not wear seatbelts but they do not even know how to wear one.

At a recent event where MasterDrive interacted with primary school children in a number of safety exercises, the trainers became aware that when the children needed to put seatbelts on, many of them did not know how. The trainers estimated that as many as 70% of the children needed assistance with strapping themselves into their seats.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says this revelation rose serious concerns. “Awareness needs to be raised amongst children that they should always wear a seatbelt. Even if parents do not own a car, children will at some point be a passenger in a car.  As a passenger, every child has the right to their own seat and seatbelt and therefore the knowledge of how to use a seatbelt.

Also read: What you can do to help curb SA’s high road death toll in 2018

“I urge every parent to ensure their child has this knowledge. As a country with an above average road fatality rate, you need to be sure your child is properly protected within a vehicle should a crash occur. It is especially important that the parent take this onus upon themselves because in certain instances they are not supported by the law.”

This can be seen in Regulation 231 from the National Road Traffic Act, which explains the number of children that may be carried in a vehicle:

  • Any child under the age of three is not counted.
  • Two children between the age of three and six are counted as one person.
  • Three children between the age of six and 13 are counted as two people.

If one were to follow this law, it is not possible for every child to have their own seat and consequently, seatbelt. “If you have never gone over how to wear a seatbelt with your child, we urge you to go home tonight and do so. A safe and bright future for your child may depend on it,” emphasises Herbert.

Seatbelt essentials

  • Ideally, children under 12 or shorter than 150cm, should sit in the rear and use a booster seat.
  • The lower part of the seatbelt should go across your pelvis not your stomach
  • The shoulder belt should sit on your chest and collarbone and not touch your face or neck
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm

Via: MasterDrive