Motherhood

Putting safety above the tantrums

Did you know, car crashes are the leading cause of injury-related under-five deaths, most of which can be avoided by a properly fitted (and used) car seat.

But I’m not here to point fingers because that would make me a hypocrite. You see, I have done the unthinkable. I’ve ridden with Rosie on my lap in the back of the car; I have even pulled her onto my lap whilst I was parking the car.

Rosie used to be the WORST in the car (she still is terrible), she would scream until she couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t take it…and that is the WORST excuse I have. For the sake of an end to the tears, I put her life at risk.

I could sit and shame myself until I reach for a bottle of wine but I’m going to be factual. I should know better. I come from a country that will fine you if you don’t wear a seat belt, a country that enforces, with zeal, car seats and booster seats and you will be hard-pressed to find any cars on the road with children bouncing seat belt-free in the back. The U.K. is strict on the things that matter, and I had this drilled in to me from the very beginning.

Here are some British rulings on traveling with kids:

  • Adults can choose child seats based either on a child’s height OR weight. (It’s either or, no option for nothing) Height-based child seats are called i-Size seats and Weight-based child seats offer a range of options: 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.
  • Children must use a rear-facing seat until the they are 15 months old.
  • When your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and it’ll now be safe to mount their car seat facing forward.
  • Children under 3 must be in a child car seat. If there’s no seat belt, they can’t travel.
  • Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
  • You can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 isn’t in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt while you’re driving.

They are pretty similar to SA’s laws except that the British police enforce it strongly…and I’ve seen SA police officers driving whilst chatting on their cell phone. But that is beside the point.

So what happened when I had a kid, why did it change?
Was it exhaustion? A headache? My sanity? Whatever the reason, I know I’m not alone. I know I can’t be the only mum who has felt the rising panic and feeling of sickness growing with each scream from your baby as they wildly thrash at their car seat confinement; I know I’m not the only mum who has thought “Oh, I’m just a few blocks away, what can happen?” I feel you mum. And, like I said, I don’t want to point fingers, so I’m just going to state these SA road facts:

  • South African road traffic statistics show that more than 450 kids are injured on a daily basis, due to road accidents
  • According to MasterDrive SA, a child can move forward 30 times their weight if not buckled up in a crash
  • At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters (19 feet) onto concrete.  (Exert taken from Pregnant in Cape Town’s post)

It’s actually quite horrific. I clutch at my stomach a bit thinking about it. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how safely I drive, how carefully and meticulously I control my vehicle, I am not in charge of anyone else and nor do I have the power to stop them from driving like a twat. Therefore, whilst I might feel that Rosie is in safe hands because she is in my hands, others on the road are definitely not thinking about my daughter.

This is why your child’s car seat is non negotiable (points taken from ArriveAlive.co.za):

Studies have revealed that child safety seats that are correctly installed for use by children age 0-4 years can reduce the need for hospitalisation by 69% after a road crash. Restraining the children and other passengers in a motor vehicle will:

  • Reduce the risk of contact interior of the vehicle or reduce the severity of injuries if this occurs

  • Distribute the force of a crash over the strongest parts of the body

  • Prevent the occupant from being ejected from the vehicle on impact

  • Prevent injury to other occupants (for example in a frontal crash, unbelted rear-seated passengers can be catapulted forward and hit other occupants)

By correctly fitting your car seat and keeping your child buckled up in the right one, YOU ARE SAVING A LIFE.

Rosie’s car seat is rear-facing which, I am told, is the safest. She still hates it and I bribe her with rice cakes, my phone, my purse etc. It’s tough. I still dread long car journeys with her. There are days when I want to pop to the shops and I question strapping her in so tightly because I want to have a 10 minute outing without tantrums. But is that the epitaph I want to put on my daughter’s gravestone? No. Hell No. And I doubt you want the same either so, I encourage you to read up more about the #CARSEATFULLSTOP movement, about the power behind it and the universal goal that we have set for South Africa…to have all children safe when they travel.

There are so many amazing posts about car seats, so many helpful tips on finding the right one for your family, and the right one for your budget. Follow the movement here:

#CARSEATFULLSTOP. EVERY CHILD. EVERY TIME. NO MATTER WHAT.

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