As of 1 May, children under the age of three will be required to only travel in a car if they are secured in a car seat.
This is required by a new regulation of the National Road Traffic Act.
Motorists who have children under the age of three unrestrained in their vehicle will be fined.
This comes after some motorists refuse to take seriously the constant warnings and calls by emergency services and authorities to have children properly secured in vehicles.
Speaking to Maritzburg Fever Caro Smit of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD), said the organisation has been working long towards getting this specific regulation passed.
According to Smit, the Medical Research Council (MRC) stated that car crashes are the leading cause of injury and/or deaths among children under the age of five in South Africa.
“Arrive Alive says that correctly installed car seats can reduce the risk of deaths by 70% in the infant age, and 47% to 54% in children aged one to four.”
Daily, toddlers can be seen jumping on back seats, hanging out of windows and sitting on passenger’s laps.
“Upon speaking to parents, some will tell you they never grew up with child car seats and survived. Parents may also tell you that their children do not like being restrained and cry constantly. Some parents insist you not tell them what to do with their children,” said Chitra Bodasing, ER24 spokesperson.
Bodasing said that emergency services attend to collisions involving children every week.
“The majority of unrestrained children are flung out of the vehicle and either sustain critical injuries or die on impact.”
While the law forces parents to use child car seats for children under the age of three, this does not mean older children should not also be secured in a car seat.
Last year, SADD distributed 20 new car seats for children at Woodlands Primary and TPA School in Northdale.
“We call on people to donate their old unwanted seats to SADD and we will get them refurbished and handed out to needy families,” said Smit.
Smit has just returned from a meeting in Morocco where a plan for 2015 was drawn up for the global campaign.
“We will be working with the same 17 schools on a project called #SaveKidsLives with regards to road safety. We will look at seat-belt use, as well as pupil visibility, alcohol abuse and other relevant road- safety issues.
Car seat tips
•Infants should ride rear-facing at least until they are a year old. Once they exceed the weight or height limit set by the manufacturer of the infant safety seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible safety seat. It is best to keep toddlers rear-facing as long as possible.
•When they have outgrown this seat, they should use a forward-facing safety seat with a full harness. This should be used until they exceed the weight and/or height limit set by the manufacturer of the seat.
•Children who have outgrown a convertible safety seat should use a booster seat until they are at least four feet.
•Children who are tall enough to wear an adult seat belt should still ride in the back seat until they are 13. Adjust the seat belt so the lap belt crosses the child’s upper thighs and the diagonal belt crosses the upper chest at a point between the neck and shoulder.