Last updated on Feb 1st, 2021 at 11:46 am

Last year 1017 children died, and 45 000 were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in road accidents over the December festive period.

While most of the time parents know exactly what they need to do to care for their children, in many cases they might not even be aware of the risks they take, particularly when travelling with their children on the roads.

“During the upcoming festive season, with restrictions on travel and alcohol sales now substantially eased, the roads are set to be more dangerous than what many people may expect,” says Peggy Mars, founder of Wheel Well, the non-profit organisation dedicated to road safety for children in South Africa.

“With South Africa having shockingly low usage of child car seats, this is a crucial time for parents to ensure that they not only acquire a seat, but the correct one for their child’s life stage, and install it properly every time they drive.”

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ALSO SEE: 4 car seat mistakes you didn’t know you were making

6 tips to ensure your child’s car seat is installed correctly

A car seat is safely installed if it cannot move more than 2.5 cm when tugged at the base of the seats. This only applies to infant and toddler seats and not booster seats. Make sure you follow the correct seatbelt path for the installation orientation:

  • Rear-facing seat belt paths are indicated by blue markings on the seat – blue is for babies.
  • Forward-facing seat belt paths are indicated by red markings on the seat: Red is for rascals.
  • Isofix installations have indicators that turns from red to green if the installation is secure.
  • An Isofix installation needs a third point of contact to finish the installation. This will be either a back-tether strap, load leg, or brace mounted on the car seat.
  • Follow the steps in your instruction manual to the letter for the stage and orientation of the seat you are using.
  • It’s also important that the harness fits correctly: the harness must be at shoulder level or slightly below for rear-facing seats, or at shoulder level or slightly above for forward-facing seats. The harness must fit snug as a hug and you must be able to fit your hand in under the buckle of the harness.

 ALSO SEE: Your 10-year-old needs a car seat to survive a crash

Is it safe to have car seat in front passenger seat?       

  • It is much safer to ride in the back, but sometimes you have more kids than seats in the back, so the eldest can ride in the front as a last resort.
  • Airbag warnings are given for rear-facing car seats. If you have to use your rear-facing car seat in the front of your vehicle, make sure you can turn the airbags off. If you cannot turn the airbags off, you simply have to use the car seat in the back. With forward-facing car seats and airbags, it gets complicated. You can install these seats on the front seat, but you have to make sure that the child will not be in the way of the airbag when it deploys. A good idea is to put the front passenger seat a little bit back.