No child under three years old may travel in a car unless buckled into a child safety seat - that's the law.
Pretoria - That fewer than seven percent of children travelling in cars in South Africa were buckled up was of major concern, so much so that the Imperial Road Safety car seat collection drive shifted into high gear during transport month in October, collecting 259 car seats from Pretoria and Johannesburg consumers to distribute to those who could not afford them.

Imperial Road Safety said the Car Seats for Kids campaign’s aim is to raise awareness about child safety on South Africa’s roads, as research on the failure to buckle up little ones up was a cause for concern.

It partnered with a Johannesburg-based radio station and went on air to encourage people with car seats they no longer needed to donate these at drop-off points for the public at the Kolonnade, Mall of Africa, Hillfox Roodepoort, Northgate, and The Glen.

The seats are for children younger than three years, and after collection they are restored and their safety checked and ensured by Wheel Well, before being distributed to families.

Raising awareness 

Wheel Well founder Peggie Mars said the campaign was a way to educate parents about the importance of buckling up and doing it the right way.

“We strive to be the most visible, audible and effective advocate of Road Safety for Children in South Africa,” said Mars, adding that they wanted to raise awareness, educate and affect changes. They also wanted to ensure the enforcement of legislation on issues surrounding road safety for children both in and around the vehicle.

“Wheel Well will align with partners and sponsors of like mind, while maintaining complete integrity and transparency in its activities,” she said.

Transport Month was the perfect time to shift their campaign into high gear. Recipients were selected from a range of callers to the radio station, and the stories about why they needed car seats were the determining factor. The response was phenomenal, they said, and highlighted the dire need for car seats in local communities.

Educating parents

Once identified, the partners said, those who deserved them most would be visited by Imperial Road Safety and Wheel Well, and the handover would be done, and, where necessary, baby product hampers would be thrown in, the partners said.

Imperial Road Safety's Berenice Francis said many parents did not have the knowledge of the safety of car seats and how to buckle them up. The campaign was intended to educate those who had little knowledge, she said.

“Our interactions with parents and families at various handovers have truly reinforced why we set out to make car seat usage and education, through our Car Seats for Kids campaign a key pillar to our road safety outreach,” said Francis.

“Many parents are still not empowered about how to ensure their children are buckled up in an appropriate car seat, how to correctly buckle them up and how to choose the right car seat.

“This, despite legislation stating that no child under the age of three is allowed to travel without being strapped into a car seat. And therefore, such reinforced education to South Africa’s public remains a critical part of our role in society,” she said.

Pretoria News