Recently I drove past a mother of three driving a rather old car with her brood playing around in the back seat and the youngest sitting on her lap.
The fact that she was wearing her seat belt amazed me. However, she probably only did this because it’s required by law and is often strictly policed. But surely she would care about her own flesh and blood enough to want to keep them safe, especially when considering the state of our roads and our drivers.
She’s not alone though. A vast majority of our road users take very little notice in strapping in their young ones. Baby seats seem to appear for a few months and then it’s much easier for Mommy to just hold Baby while Dad drives.
I often wish these parents would catch a wake-up. Sadly that’s easier said than done and should anything happen while they are driving, it is often the innocent children who will pay the price with their lives.
The statistics are frightening: more than one third of children under the age of 13 who die in vehicle accidents were not wearing seat belts or in car seats.
Caregivers and parents are the first lines of defence in ensuring their children are secured and buckled up as motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death for children in first-world countries.
I’m well aware that children can be little tyrants and kick and scream when they buckled up, but these screams could be their last if you don’t take the necessary time to securely fasten them in.
“But we’re just going down the road” is another poor excuse I’ve heard over the years. It doesn’t matter how far you are travelling, you should care enough to make the necessary time and buckle yourself and your loved ones.
Research has shown that car seats provide life-saving and injury reducing benefits for child passengers when correctly installed and can reduce the risk of fatal injury by over 70% for infants and some 50% for toddlers while children are around 60% less likely to be injured in a booster seat than if they were using seat belts alone.
I know there are a lot of us who get irate about the seat belt debacle, from those who chose not to wear it to the parents who can’t be bothered enough to buckle their children in. Overseas, governments run safety campaigns to promote awareness and educate motorists on the dangers involved of not wearing seatbelts, particularly for small children.
It’s this promotional awareness that has changed people’s perceptions and ideas, but yet it still hasn’t seemed to have caught on locally.
Our safety campaigns revolve around drinking and driving with the odd ‘buckle up’, but we need something stronger to enforce a shift in our thinking and to value the human life.
If you have a child and own a car, you should almost be forced into buying a baby seat. Vehicle rental companies are starting to take this matter seriously and even offer baby seats in rental cars. But what’s the point if a large number of parents refuse to utilise them and instead strap their bag of groceries in with it and place young Isaac on their lap.
Sometimes it’s necessary to paint a gloomy picture to force people to change. For instance, you are 10 times more likely to be killed in a road accident if you are not wearing a seat belt and a crash at 40km/h is like falling from a two-storey building… onto concrete. It certainly can’t be fun.
Now imagine your precious loved one enduring an experience like that. “Ag, but my car has airbags so we will be okay” is another bright answer someone might mumble. Fantastic! However, airbags are designed to work as supplements to seat belts and by not wearing a seat belt a passenger may come into contact with the airbags before they fully deploy - not ideal when considering airbags are deployed at around 300km/h.
Findings show that nearly all people in the United States who have died from airbag-related injuries were either incorrectly restrained or not restrained at all.
So next time you decide to head out onto the road, rather take the necessary precautions for yourself and loved ones to help ensure you arrive at your destination safely. We all know the dangers associated with commuting, but ultimately it is up to us to do our part and protect those who are unable to protect themselves.