Belt up, please

2016-04-13 06:00
One of the basic safety rules to follow is fasten your seat belt when travelling.

One of the basic safety rules to follow is fasten your seat belt when travelling.

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ONE thing that stands out loud and clear is the number of drivers and passengers who do not belt up, whether in town or on the open road. One of the basic safety rules to follow is fasten your seat belt when travelling.

The use of safety belts in motor vehicles is without doubt responsible for saving the lives of countless South Africans every year and drivers and passengers should therefore always make a point of wearing a seat belt, urges emergency medical services provider, Netcare 911.

René Grobler, who heads Netcare Milpark Hospital’s Netcare Trauma Injury Prevention programme, is particularly concerned about the fact that so many South African drivers do not consider the safety of children while driving

It should be kept in mind that children and babies are much more vulnerable to injury than adults, and adult seat belts often do not adequately restrain them during an accident. Youngsters need to be strapped in using properly designed child safety seats that are secured in the rear of the car. These seats are highly effective in preventing injury and should be used every time someone travels with a child in a vehicle.

A child who is standing between the two front seats at the time of an accident has the greatest chance of being injured or of not surviving an accident. Remember that children can also be severely injured by vehicle air bags if these are activated while a child is in the front seat.?

The South African National Road Traffic Act states that seat belts must be worn while driving and that all reasonable steps must be taken to protect children from injury while travelling with them on the road.

Child safety tips:

• Use your car safety seat from the first day you travel with your newborn baby, i.e. on your way home from the hospital.

• The safest place for your child in a vehicle is on the back seat in a correctly fitted safety seat. A child should only be allowed to sit in the front seat once she is taller than 150cm, can place her feet comfortably on the ground and weighs more than 45kg.

• A rear-facing child restraint system provides the best protection for infants until they are around 12 months old. Keep them in this type of car seat for as long as possible and only start using a forward facing child seat when they no longer fit in the rear facing-type seat, or until they reach the maximum height or weight limit allowed by your car seat?s manufacturer.

• Make sure you follow the installation instructions for the motor vehicle safety seat or seek assistance if these are not clear to you.

• Always ensure the car seat is well secured and that the child is properly strapped in.

• Once your child has completely outgrown the larger car seat (usually around eight and 10 years of age), it needs to be replaced with a booster seat which helps prop a child to a better height so that a standard seat belt rests in the correct place across their body. Make sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt under his/her arm or behind his/her back. This leaves the upper body unprotected and adds extra slack into the seat belt system, putting your child at risk of severe injury in a collision or with sudden braking.

• Never allow anyone to share seat belts. All passengers must have their own car seats and seat belts.

Grobler says that the following should be considered when looking for an appropriate car - look for a South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) stamp of approval. All motor vehicle safety seats for sale in South Africa should have this stamp.

- Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare and Netcare.

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