Johannesburg - Less than seven percent of children in cars in South Africa are using child seats.
This shocking statistic comes from the Automobile Association’s informal observational research, which found that in many instances children were 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.
Since the introduction of legislation that requires passengers under three years of age to be in a child seat, little has changed in the way many people transport children, said the AA, calling for stricter enforcement of the law.
“When the law came into effect in July 2015 we welcomed the change to the legislation,” it said, “and called on authorities to ensure a wide education and enforcement campaign was launched to ensure infants get the protection the law provides. We are dismayed that too many people are failing to buckle up and protect children in the car.
“This is extremely worrying and speaks directly to the poor attitude drivers have; 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 would have been meaningless,” the AA noted.
Global research has shown that putting a child in a car or booster seat (which is properly fastened) reduces the chance of death or serious injury in crashes significantly. Despite this, many people still do not use car seats for their children using excuses such as:
“I’m only driving a short distance” or “I’m going to be driving overnight so there’ll be less traffic on the road”.
Apart from ensuring children are secured in a car seat, the AA noted that seatbelt wearing rates in South Africa are currently below 60 percent, meaning that countless lives are lost, families harmed, and communities impacted due to almost half of all motorists not buckling up.
“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. We want to again urge every driver to buckle-up and be safe: it’s a simple, easy way to protect yourself,” the Association concluded.