While traffic volumes on South African roads over the Easter period are expected to be well below pre-Covid levels, motorists can’t afford to let their guard down, especially parents travelling with children…
Peggy Mars, founder of Wheel Well gives four compelling reasons that every child on South African roads needs to be in a car seat every time.
While traffic volumes on major highways in December 2020 fell by as much as 27% compared to the same period in 2019, road fatalities dropped by only 5.7%. This means that despite a significant drop in cars on the roads, there was relatively more reckless driving on the roads, making long-distance travel as dangerous as ever.
As South Africa is now operating under a reduced lockdown level 1, compared to level 3 in December and level 5 this time last year, road traffic volumes during the 2021 Easter weekend are expected to see a sharp rise.
In addition to the inevitable spike in road activity, here are four reasons that all children need to be properly protected using the correct car seat for their age, size and weight:
- Save Lives Easily
Road crashes are the number one cause of death for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using a car seat, not just a seatbelt alone, reduces the risk of injury by as much as 82% for children. With car seat usage estimated at a shockingly low 7.8%, the hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries that children suffer on the country’s roads can be substantially reduced simply through car seat usage.
- Older Kids also at Risk
Standard seat belts in vehicles are generally designed for adults, with crash testing showing that children under 1.5 metres are much safer in car seats or boosters, as they offer adequate support and protection proportional to their bodies. For kids older than the mandated three years-old, a booster seat is recommended and when using a seatbelt for kids under 12, a secure-a-kid safety harness can help position the seat belt over the correct areas of smaller bodies, especially around the neckline, to prevent injury, should a crash happen.
- Avoid Penalties
South African law requires car seat usage for babies under three years-old, and authorities are becoming stricter in enforcing this, with penalties to be issued and witnesses encouraged to report non-compliance. However, don’t wait until you are reported. Rather, make sure your children are protected even beyond the required age.
- Help is on Hand
Affordability is now an issue of the past when looking for the right car seat. The thousands of infant and toddler car seats, as well as booster seats, bought every year can be reused by new parents when children outgrow them, as the equipment is often still in good working order. For any donation that one is able to afford, one will be taken through a quick training process by Wheel Well’s skilled staff and have his or her child fitted with the correct car seat, to give the child the best possible protection.
In an effort to support parents who desperately need car seats for their children and cannot afford them, Wheel Well, the non-profit organisation dedicated to road safety for children in South Africa has partnered with Supa Quick nationwide to create drop off points for unused, unwanted children car seats. Wheel Well will then collect, refurbish and clean them so they can be offered to parents in need.