Choosing the Right Car Seat Can Save Young Lives
Babies and young children are some of the most vulnerable groups in society. As an adult, parent, or guardian it is your duty and responsibility to keep them safe when travelling. At this stage in their lives, they do not have the cognitive skills to protect themselves and rely on adults to protect them from any type of injury while on the roads.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) statistics reveal that overall, there was a decline in driver fatalities by 1% in 2015. Out of 75 drivers killed, 20 (27%) were not wearing seatbelts. Young drivers accounted for 25% of all drivers who died in 2015. In terms of passenger mortality, there was a 32% reduction with a third of passengers not wearing seatbelts. The good news is there was a substantial reduction (80%) in the number of children (15 years and younger) who were victims of fatalities compared to 2014.
However, these statistics can still be improved by taking the proper precautions when driving in cars on the road. For babies and children, using the proper seat inside a vehicle can save them from severe injuries or death. In the case of babies and young children, they must use a child seat or booster seat/cushion. In the event of a collision or crash, car restraints reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (Irish Medical Journal). Booster seats lowers the risk of serious injury in children ages 4-7 by 59% (Irish Medical Journal).
Choosing the Proper Seat
According to the same study, 1 in 5 kids was not restrained in a proper car seat putting the child at risk. Hence, it is vital to know the laws governing the use and installation of car child seats when motoring in Ireland.
When buying car seats, it is important to get one that is compliant with EU or United Nations ECE Regulation (4403/04). Check for the label that indicates conformity with existing regulations or the ‘E’ mark. You can also buy i-Size or Regulation 129 compliant child seats. The main benefit is that this can be fitted in cars that use ISOFIX systems. It also enhances support to a child’s head and neck.
The child car seat must also be suitable to a child’s height and weight and must be installed correctly. All children under 150 cm in height or 36 kg in weight must use a child restraint system suitable for their height and weight when motoring.
What to Avoid
Fitting proper child seats on a car seat is crucial. The following must also be observed to avoid costly mistakes.
Never hold a child on your lap or put a seat belt over the two of you. You will not be able to hold onto the child in the event of a collision.
Rear-facing car seats must not be used in front passenger seats where there is an active frontal air bag. It can cause serious injury or death. It is also an offence to do so and there is a penalty for drivers.
Children can sit in the front passenger seat for as long as they are protected with the proper child restraint suitable for their weight and height. The seat should also be far away from the dashboard and airbags. To be on the safe side, it is highly recommended that children travel in the back of a car where there are no active airbags.
For extra safety, ISOFIX points are built in some new vehicles. Should you have a child car seat suitable for this system, make sure that it is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.