Children under three must now be in car seats

2014-11-14 00:00

BY April next year, expectant parents shopping around for a car seat will not only have to worry about purchasing the leading brand, but whether it meets the safety standards.

The amended regulations to the National Road Traffic Act published in the Government Gazette states that infants up to three-years-old must be transported in a car seat when travelling in private vehicles. The regulation is expected to come into effect in April 2015.

Explaining the regulation, the Automobile Association’s Marius Luyt said the legislator has also added another clause that states: “The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that an infant travelling in such motor vehicle is seated on an appropriate child restraint: Provided this provision shall not apply in a case of a minibus, midibus or bus operating for reward.”

Luyt said this implies that it is now compulsory for motorists to have child restraints that are in compliance with the SABS in their motor vehicles for children under the age of three years.

Sales experts said Safeway, Bambino, Chicco, Graco, Maxi-Cosi and Peg Perego were among the leading brands in South Africa, but they are expensive.

Nikita Kistnasamy, a sales assistant at Baby City in the Pavilion shopping centre, said: “Our cheapest car seat at the moment is the Safeway, which goes for R419,99. It is a basic infant car seat with a normal three-point safety harness. It is the only car seat in the Safeway range that loads up to 10 kg. Then we have the Maxi-Cosi Axiss, which costs about R4 599. It revolves 360 degrees, loads about nine to 18 kilograms and can face forward.”

Car seat expert Mohamed Kaka from Brands Africa said: “There are two safety standards and South Africa complies to the European standards governed by the UN. The minimum safety standards are called ECE R4404, but last year new safety standards called I-Size were adopted,” said Kaka.

There are three types of car seats. An infant car seat that is designed for 0 to 15 months is a rear-facing seat. Once your child outgrows the infant seat they can use a toddler seat that is designed for children who are 15 months up to three-and-a-half years. This is a forward-facing seat with a five-point safety harness. The last one is for children above three and anything up to nine years old.

Peggie Mars from Wheel Well, a non-profit organisation that collects and redistributes child car seats, said the new regulations were highly significant.

“Prior to now, children under the age of three were not mentioned in the act and now they will be protected. But I hope the act will be treated with necessary compassion, bearing in mind that not everyone can afford a car seat.”

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