Car seats are very expensive, and many families just cannot afford them. Sometimes too, families don’t own their own cars but have access to that of a relative or friend and or their children are transported by relatives etc, and those cars have no car seats.
In short, many children are transported around the country on a regular basis, without car seats – mostly due to a lack of affordability. What to do then?
We chatted to Pertunia Sibanyoni, CEO of InspectaCar and Wheel Well board member, who insists car seats are essential when traveling with children. 1 576 Child passengers died in car crashes last year due to not being in a car seat, she revealed.
"Child safety and the importance of properly restraining a child in a child seat while travelling in a vehicle is something I am strongly committed to. It is unfathomable to me, as a mother of a young child, that a parent will even consider travelling without safely restraining a child travelling in a vehicle," she told the media recently.
Earlier this year, InspectaCar introduced a campaign to collect no-longer-needed car seats as part of a CSR initiative to pay-it-forward. Donors are encouraged to drop off used car seats at dealerships around the country, and they are then sent to Wheel Well for checks and refurbishment.
These cleaned and safety checked car seats are available from Wheel Well in Strijdom Park, Randburg, for a donation that the family can afford. Due to high logistics cost, they cannot ship car seats to other parts of the country.
Must read: How safe is your car for your child? Take a look at these 5 vehicle ratings
At what point is a car seat no longer safe (such as in the case of hand-me-downs and used seats, or those bought used on Gumtree or Marketplace)?
There is always a risk in using second hand seats. They can be incorrectly assembled, there is no instruction manual or they could have been in a crash. Some are simply too old to use safely.
It is not so much an age issue, but much more about how well the seat has been looked after and maintained. A seat that looks as if it has been through the mill, probably has.
Experts at Wheel Well is happy to assist parents in making safe choices.
In the case of school transport vehicles, what must parents ask for/look out for when choosing a school transport service?
School transport are exempt from using car seats and the loading of children has not been addressed as yet.
When choosing school transport for your child, please make sure that they allow one child per seat, that they are strict on using seat belts as a minimum requirement, the driver must have a valid license and a public driving permit, and the vehicle must be road worthy.
They should have car seats available if it is a dedicated shuttle service.
Which would you say are the cheapest but also safest car seat brands available in SA?
Safeway has wonderful extended rear-facing multi-stage car seats called Atlas and Unite that can be used from birth till your child is seat belt ready.
The Safeway Atlas is available from Baby City for R1999 and the Safeway Unite is available from Makro for R1699. Both these seats have been subjected to regulatory tests in all the different ways of installation and age groups.
When you take the price of these seats over the 10 to 12 years that you can use it, they are very affordable.
Share your story with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.