Cape Town - All drivers transporting children under the age of three will be liable to pay a fine if the child is not strapped into a car seat.
This amendment to the National Road Traffic Act, which takes effect on April 30, will mean that drivers giving a friend with children under the age of three a lift will be liable to pay a fine of between R200 and R500 if caught.
Department of transport spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said the circumstances leading to a child travelling without a car seat is not the state’s concern as the driver needed to take the responsibility.
“We hope traffic officials won’t have to go out of their way to remind parents of their inherent responsibility as we will rely on their co-operation,” said Rikhotso.
With car seat prices ranging from R800 to R5000, Rikhotso said parents would have to cut down their expenses to make sure their children are safe.
“I do not believe that car seats are too expensive for parents who want to make sure their most vulnerable and valuable asset is protected,” said Rikhotso.
An analysis conducted by Safely Home, using audited fatality data from the Forensic Pathology Services of the provincial Department of Health, showed that 53.42 percent of the bodies of young children who died as passengers in road crashes were recovered outside or under the vehicle.
Western Cape transport MEC Donald Grant said when a body was found outside the vehicle, it was a near-certain indicator that the child was not restrained as ejection did not occur when an appropriate child restraint was used.
Passengers ejected from a crash face a 75 percent chance of being killed due to ground-impact injuries and collisions with other objects and vehicles.
Head of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital trauma unit and chairman of Childsafe SA, Professor Sebastian van As, came out in full support of the new regulations.
“These new amended regulations are a step in the right direction towards the protection of young children on our roads. Parents who can afford to have a vehicle must also be in a position to ensure their children are appropriately restrained, which will undoubtedly save thousands of young lives that may have otherwise been lost during a crash,” said Van As.
Cape Town mayoral committee memeber for safety and security JP Smith said most cars were fitted with seatbelts in the front and rear seats, so motorists had no excuse not to strap in their children.