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SA marks sixth annual Child Passenger Safety Week

Despite progress in vehicle safety, road accidents remain the number-one cause of fatalities amongst children under 10.

Regardless of it being law that every child under the age of three be securely strapped into a car seat, a shocking 93% of motorists, taxi and bus services flaunt this law, which is not effectively enforced by local and national police. The majority of child injuries through car accidents, are due to a complete lack of any kind of child safety restraint.

“Child Passenger Safety week runs internationally from the 18th to the 24th of September, and we at Maxi-Cosi really want to get people talking about the importance of our children’s safety in motor vehicles in South Africa.,” says Debbie Billson, Operations Director for Maxi-Cosi, who have been the driving force behind Child Passenger Safety Week since its inception six years ago in SA.

“We want to educate and inform South African road users of the dangers of travelling on our roads with children who are not securely strapped into a car seat, as well as ensuring the car seat they use has undergone the minimum crash testing required. Strapping our children into a well-secured car seat needs to become something every single one of us does, no matter how short a car trip we are doing!”

An adult holding a child in their arms provides absolutely no protection in the event of an accident. In a 50km/h crash, impact force can be more than 30 times body weight. For example, a child weighing approximately 30kg in a crash will experience an impact force similar to being crushed by several tonnes of weight. At the point of impact, no-one is capable of restraining them. The strength of the impact is equal to falling three stories.

A recent study conducted by Arrive Alive found that seatbelt usage is much lower in central business districts in South Africa, suggesting that road users believe that in low-speed environments a seatbelt is unimportant! At the same time, the Red Cross Memorial Hospital treats an average of 20 child passengers every month as a result of car accidents!

Another alarming statistic is the 14% increase in vehicle hijackings, which the SA Police Service recorded over the past year.

To help to reduce these worrying numbers, strapping your children in is simply non-negotiable, says Cliff de Wit, Chief Technology Officer of stolen vehicle, tracking and recovery company, Netstar – a subsidiary of Altron. But parents can also take other steps to further protect their loved ones.

“Our children are our most precious cargo,” says de Wit. “Our starting point is strapping them in before our journey begins. After that, while we’re on the road, we want to protect them against all possible dangers. Technology such as panic buttons, vehicle tracking, and recovery services can be invaluable in improving overall passenger safety. For example, the Netstar Companion app links to a network of armed and medical responders, providing an extra layer of protection.”

While children under the age of 3 are legally required to be securely restrained in a car seat, standard seatbelts in most cars are designed for adult passengers 150cm and taller, leaving children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old requiring additional support in the form of a booster seat. “Children under 150cm are not safe just being secured by a seat belt, they are physically not developed enough to be secure,” says Billson.

“The lower belt doesn’t sit on their hips, as it is intended to do with adults, and rather ends up around their abdomen, which can result in fatal internal injuries in the case of a crash.

The upper section of the belt rests dangerously across their neck, as opposed to being on their shoulder, and can easily break a child’s neck in the case of an accident! A simple booster seat can prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.”
South African consumers are fortunate to have a large selection of well-tested, reasonably priced car seat options. There is no excuse not to be using one, says Billson.

“The average car seat costs only 1% of the value of most cars in SA,” exclaims Billson. “For the average lifespan of a car seat it works out at less than R2 per day to ensure your child is safe – there honestly is no excuse to not secure your child into a car seat every time they get into a vehicle!”

For more information about Child Passenger Safety Week please visit

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