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restraints and tips on travelling with youngsters
the seat belt correctly
What's your reason for not wearing a seat belt?
Children are extremely vulnerable as their build differs from an adult in
that the head is large and heavy in relation to the body, which in a collision
will cause the child to be flung forwards, head first, at an incredibly high
speed if he/she is not buckled up. This can result in serious neck and facial
injuries, brain damage and death. By adhering to the following tips may you
never have to say "If only…" Remember that life is precious and your
child is irreplaceable.
- Children who are not buckled up will be seriously injured or die if the
vehicle in which they are travelling is involved in a collision. Always
buckle your child up even if you are only travelling short distances or at a
- Babies and children should be seated in the vehicle in a suitable
child-seat. Even a small collision can be fatal for a small child who is not
- There are a variety of excellent rear-facing and front-facing child-seats
on the market. Child-seats should be SABS approved and appropriate to
the child’s age, weight, build and stage of development. It is important
to install the restraint according to the manufacturer’s instructions;
- Never place a front-facing child-seat in the front passenger seat if your
vehicle is fitted with air-bags. When the air-bag is released on impact your
baby or child may be suffocated by it;
- Never travel with your child on your lap! Should a collision occur, he or
she will be thrown against the dashboard or through the windscreen;
- Never let your child share your seatbelt because if you are involved in a
collision he/she will be crushed between your body and the seatbelt;
- A carrycot is not a child restraint. A collision will cause the carrycot
to be flung around inside the vehicle, injuring the child as well as other
- Seat belts and child restraints also serve as a restraining device against
boisterous youngsters, who may distract the driver;
- Your child should not be given the choice of whether or not to use a child
restraint. It is the responsibility and legal obligation of the driver to
ensure that children are buckled up;
- Regularly check that the straps that secure the child-seat into your
vehicle have not worked themselves loose.
"Properly worn" means with both straps snugly fitted to transfer
the impact of the collision to the parts of your body that can take it - your
hipbones and shoulder bones. With just the shoulder strap on, you can still
slide out from under it and be strangled, while the lap belt alone doesn't keep
your face from hitting the steering wheel.
Actually, this is the best time to wear a safety belt, since 80% of
traffic fatalities occur within 40 kilometres of home and under 80 kilometres
- "I'm only going to the shopping centre"
- "I won't be in an accident: I'm a good driver." Your good driving record will certainly help you to avoid accidents. But
even if you're a good driver, a bad driver may still hit you.
- "I'll just brace myself."
Even if you had the split-second timing to do this, the force of the impact
would shatter the arm or leg you used to brace yourself. By wearing a seat
belt you can prevent injuries if you are involved in a collision.
- "I'm afraid the belt will trap me in the car."
Statistically, the best place to be during an accident is in your car. If
you're thrown out of the car, you're 25 times more likely to die. And if you
need to get out of the car in a hurry - as in the extremely tiny percent of
accidents involving fire or submergence - you can get out a lot faster if you
haven't been knocked unconscious inside your car.
- "They're uncomfortable."
Actually, modern safety belts can be made so comfortable that you may wonder
if they really work. Most of them give when you move - a device locks them in
place only when the car stops suddenly. You can put a little bit of slack in
most belts simply by pulling on the shoulder strap. Others come with comfort
clips, which hold the belt in a slightly slackened position. If the belt won't
fit around you, you can get a belt extender at most car dealerships.
- "I don't need a belt - I've got an airbag."
Lucky you! An air bag increases the effectiveness of a safety belt by 40
percent. But air bags were never meant to be used in place of safety belts,
since they don't protect against side impacts at all.