Lack of seatbelts kill SA kids

Almost a third of children under the age of 12 involved in car accidents were seriously injured simply because they were not properly restrained, according to new statistics from Netcare's trauma division.

Of these almost 30% were children under the age of two, said a joint press release from Netcare and Netcare 911.

According to Mande Toubkin, National Trauma Manager for the Netcare Group, the injuries sustained were all priority one injuries which makes them extremely serious, and in most instances life altering. She added that sadly, as many as 4% of the children involved in these collisions died.”

“Gauteng accounted for 60% of these serious injuries while KwaZulu Natal, at 20,6%, was the region with the second most injuries. All injuries were caused because these little passengers were not wearing seatbelts or were not properly restrained,” said Toubkin.

Dr Sebastian van As, from the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town recently said that if an accident happens and a child is thrown from the car, there is a 75% chance that the child will die. “Trauma kills more people under the age of 18 than any disease, and children are most severely injured because of motor vehicle accidents,” he said.

The statistics, which were released as part of Netcare 911’s annual road safety campaign, were accumulated over a 22-month period throughout Netcare hospitals countrywide, the press release said.

"Buckling up is the simplest way to save your child's life - and to not insist on the wearing of seatbelts is ‘a form of neglect’. By not enforcing the wearing of seatbelts we are failing our children,” Says Dr Fanie Hattingh, principal Medical Officer for Netcare 911.

Hattingh would also like to see more policing of traffic offences on the roads. "It would also be great if we could launch a campaign that would inform pedestrians of the need to be visible at night. Finally, it would be invaluable if we could incorporate CPR and first aid training as part of the training programme which precedes the issueing of drivers licenses,” he says.

Source: Press release from Netcare and Netcare 911

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November 2008

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