Johannesburg - As the festive season approaches, concerns are growing about the safety of children travelling in vehicles.

The AA says only seven percent of South Africa’s drivers put children in car seats - despite the passing in July 2015 of a law requiring all children to be in a child seat.

“At the time, we welcomed the new law,” the AA said, “but called on authorities to ensure a wide education and enforcement campaign was launched to ensure infants get the protection the law provides.

“What we are seeing now is that too many people are failing to buckle up and protect children in the car.”

Earlier in 2016 the AA conducted informal observational research to determine how many children were placed in car seats.

“We found that less than seven percent of children in cars were using them. In many instances, children are sitting in the front passenger seat without seatbelts, standing in the car while it was moving, or at the very least, were not in an age, weight and height-appropriate car seat.

“Not only are they disregarding the law, but they are risking their children’s lives. More needs to be done to enforce this law; otherwise its introduction will have been meaningless.”

Life saving

Research shows that a properly fitted child seat will reduce the chance of injuries in a crash, and possibly save a child’s life. Statistics also show that less than 60 percent of South Africans wear seatbelts.

“Considering how easy it is to put a child in a car seat, or use a seatbelt, we believe the attitude of some drivers needs urgent attention,” the AA said.

Arrive Alive said seatbelts and child restraints were primarily designed to prevent or minimise injury to a vehicle occupant during a crash. It also distributed the forces of a crash over the strongest parts of the body and prevented the occupant from being ejected.

The AA and Arrive Alive urged drivers to buckle up, strap in their children and be safe on the roads - not just during the festive season but all year round.

The Star

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