Baby on board: Experts unpack what the law says about your baby’s safety while in transit

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  • Using a car seat, also called a child safety seat, is the best way to protect your kids when they're in a car.
  • In South Africa, there are laws that have since been put into place to ensure a child's safety while in transit.
  • Parents will have to pay harsh fines should they be found to be in contravention of this law.

While stuck in traffic, you’re bound to spot a child standing on the back seat, in between the car seats, or cradled by an adult in the front passenger seat — it’s become such a normal sight! This is illegal and unsafe, says Con Roux, commercial manager for the N3 Toll Concession. “A mere 7 % of children travel in restraints specially designed for them,” he reveals, adding that strapping babies and children safely cannot be stressed enough.

“You must use your seat belt and car seats for children as the laws of motion still apply,” he explains. Road safety organisation Arrive Alive states that following a car crash, car seats for babies younger than four years can reduce hospitalisation by at least 69 %. This is because kids that are not safely harnessed are more prone to injuries because they come into contact with harder car parts, than when they are buckled up.

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A new law that came into effect on 30 April 2019 stipulates that infants and babies younger than three years must be transported in car seats, as normal safety belts are designed for taller and bigger people.

“We understand that the cost of car seats prevents many parents from buying them, but they are not luxury items,” Roux explains. He says car seats are designed to not only keep young ones secure during a drive, but to also stop them from being flung out in the event of a car crash. The amended law will be stricter on disobeying parents — a harsher fine will be given.

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The child’s age dictates where the car seat should face, but it’s best to keep it at the back seat, facing the front. And, parents are strongly discouraged from placing a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag. Should something happen, the sheer force of an airbag will dislocate the car seat, and with it, the baby inside. “For children shorter than 1,4 m, the appropriate car seat must be used to ensure their safety and comfort. And if your child’s younger than 13, let them ride in the back seat,” says Desiree van Niekerk, Supa Quick brand manager.

Car seats to consider

Maxi-Cosi CabrioFixCar Seat- R2799.00

baby car seats south africa
Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix Car Seat.

SafewayOrbit Infant Car Seat- R999.00

baby car seats south africa
Safeway Orbit Infant Car Seat.


Graco Enhance Car Seat Black/grey- R3399.99

baby car seats south africa
Graco Enhance Car Seat Black/grey.

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