It is vital that all children travelling in a car are protected from injury caused by sudden stops or impact. An unrestrained child in a motor car is like an egg in a tin can  fragile and easily crushed by any impact. Don’t take chances with your child’s safety. Most injuries to toddlers in car accidents are to the head – half of them fatal – while many of those who survive have permanent brain damage. So follow these guidelines for travelling safely with your child.

Safety rules for travelling with children

Young children should always travel sitting down in the back seat.

Never allow a child to stand on a front seat or behind the driver.

Only soft toys should be allowed in the car. Pencils, sticks, metal toys and other items that could injure if the car should halt abruptly should be forbidden.

An adult holding a child does not offer protection. Even at reasonably slow speeds, a 14 kg child exerts a force of 445 kg in the event of a sudden stop.

If you make it an unbreakable rule to put your baby in a car seat every time you go out she will get used to it and there should be no problems. Some children become difficult about sitting in a car seat later on, but in an area as important as this you will have to be unflinchingly firm. If you never fail to use your seatbelt you will have set a strong example and have a ready ploy to counter difficult behaviour. Remember it is up to you to make sure the rule is never broken, even if you have to stay home or leave the child behind if she will not co-operate.

All cars the child travels in regularly should be fitted with a suitable safety device.

If you live near the sea check the anchor points on the car regularly for rust.

Safety devices are made to withstand a single impact. If an accident occurs the seat should be replaced.

The bucketstyle seat protects the head and body

A suitable safety device for children with a mass of more than 18 kg

This seat is slightly raised so the child can see out the window

Never leave groceries, tools or other items that could become lethal missiles in a sudden stop, in the car. A 500 g tin of jam attains a mass of 10 kg after a stop at 60 km/h, enough to kill should it hit a passenger.

Children under the age of 14 sitting in the front passenger seat are the driver’s legal responsibility and she must ensure that they wear seatbelts. From the age of 14 the onus is on the passenger to follow the regulations for wearing safety belts. However it is not a good policy for any child to sit in the front as the safety belt passes across the neck and on impact serious injury is possible.

Safety locks on the back doors must be used.

To keep children from becoming bored on long trips and distracting the driver, make frequent stops.

A plastic bag filled with dried fruit or other suitable snacks can help keep them quiet.

Take a wet cloth in a plastic bag for wiping sticky hands.

Bits of wool, crayons and drawing pad, soft doll or finger puppets can be the basis for stories and games.

A child who suffers from travel sickness is less likely to become ill if she can see out of the car window. For long trips ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable product to prevent nausea.



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