Updated: Apr 10
As we get ready to hit the road to see our relatives, remember to buckle up and be safe on the roads.
There’s something nostalgic about a December road trip. We all have memories or our mom’s padkos, our parents fighting over which route is quicker, or our Dad’s reprimands when we got a bit rowdy. But what’s also typical about our roads in South Africa over the holiday season is the very high number of accidents, fatalities and injuries that occur, some of which can ruin families forever.
With this in mind, it’s vital that you think carefully about the safety of your family in your vehicle before setting off on a long trip. Here are some items to consider:
Make sure you’ve installed child lock on car doors and windows, even if your kids are not that young anymore. Little people love nothing more than pushing buttons and pulling levers, as well as opening and closing windows. Falling out of a moving vehicle is incredibly dangerous, so this is one of the first steps.
You may remember our parents using a towel shoved over the window to block out the sun, but nowadays things have got a bit more sophisticated. There are a variety of sun shields that you can find to fit your car windows specially, and these will allow your kids to see out, protect them from those harsh sunrays, and also allow you the driver to see safely out in terms of checking your blind spots. Also ensure you always have enough liquids for the family to drink when it’s very hot and you’re driving long distances.
Check toys and other loose items in your car. You may ask what harm a water bottle or a large toy can do – but when you’re involved in an accident, these items can actually become dangerous projectile items. This is because “crash force dynamics turns everything into a weapon,” according to information provided by national car seat awareness initiative #CarseatFullstop. Use the glove compartment to store smaller items and put things you don’t need in the boot, or remove them from your car completely.
It’s illegal to travel in a car with a child under three who is not in an approved car seat, yet over 90% of children on South African roads still travel without being strapped in. Mandy Lee Miller from #CarseatFullstop says that five children die on our roads every day. “Car passenger deaths are the fourth leading cause of death in children in South Africa, and the leading cause of accidental death in children aged 5 to 15,” says Mandy. However, this can be prevented as car seats apparently reduce the risk of death by 71% for babies, and 54% for kids.
Here are some basic facts on how to keep your kids safe in their car seats and booster seats, from #CarseatFullstop:
Babies should be in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 1 year old. It’s the safest option, in fact, to keep them rear-facing as long as possible.
Toddlers should be in a convertible child seat (rear-facing) until they outgrow the weight and height recommendations of the seat. They should remain rear-facing until 3 or 4 years old.
Children should then be in booster seats until they are over 1.5 metres tall and between the ages of 10 and 12.
Once kids are over 1.5 metres tall they should still only travel in the back seat and the 3-point safety belt should be positioned low on the pelvis and across the upper chest between the neck and shoulder (not over the neck).
You may think it will never happen to you, but you can’t control if other drivers on the roads are driving recklessly, have been drinking, or are distracted by their cellphones. Following these safety tips will ensure that you’ve done your utmost to protect your family, so you can get out on the roads, enjoy your holiday, and make special memories together.