Johannesburg - The importance of buckling up children can never be overemphasised, yet there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t see kids roaming around freely inside cars, as if their parents simply don’t realise how severe the consequences will be if there is an accident.

But there is yet another blindspot, even among those who do strap their children into seats when they’re small.

Older kids who have outgrown their child seats, but who are still too small for adult-sized seatbelts, still need to be properly secured while travelling, the Automobile Association warns, and research shows that this simply isn’t happening.

Even scarier than that, a Child Safety Seat Survey that was conducted in 2018 shows that a quarter of motorists don’t bother restraining kids under 12 at all.

“A ten kilogram child who is involved in a crash at 60km/h will weigh 600kgs at the moment of impact. At this weight, no-one is going to prevent that child from slamming through the front windshield," the AA says.

“Study after study has shown that children who aren’t properly restrained, and who are involved in crashes - even at slower speeds - have more chance of being seriously injured or, worse, killed, than those who are.”

Bigger kids need booster seats

The association added that motorists need to look beyond the legislation and buy booster seats for bigger children who have outgrown their child seats. These are easily available and will make a huge difference should the unthinkable happen.

There are also certain things to keep in mind when it comes to smaller kids and traditional seats. Not only should parents ensure they source the correct seat, but the harnesses should also be adjusted as the child grows, and as he or she moves from winter to summer clothing or vice versa.

As for choosing the correct seats, the AA recommends taking a look at the safety ratings published on its website, based on extensive consumer tests conducted by Germany’s ADAC safety group, which includes many of the same car seats that are available locally.

“People overestimate their abilities which, in the end, doesn’t determine whether they are involved in a crash or not. Many good drivers are the victims of other people’s reckless road behaviour and precisely for this reason, every precaution must be taken to ensure your, and your passengers’ safety,” the AA added.

What about those who can't afford child seats?

Although the economic reality is that many struggle to afford to buy child seats, there are initiatives, such as InspectaCar's CSR programme, that collect, refurbishing and donate car seats to those less fortunate.

“We are appealing to parents who own a child car seat that they no longer use to consider donating it to a deserving family," says InspectaCar CEO Pertunia Sibanyoni. 

"Our dealerships around the country will be the drop off points for the pre-owned car seats. We will then ensure that they are sent to Wheel Well for the necessary checks and refurbishment.”

You can take your unwanted child seat to a nearby InspectaCar today, and help make a difference; perhaps save a life, with a simple gesture of kindness.

IOL Motoring