Thousands of South Africans die on our roads every year. Sadly, young children are often victims of motor vehicle collisions.
Keep your most precious cargo safe while travelling with these 13 expert tips:
- Make sure your child’s car seat conforms to safety standards. Never buy a second-hand car seat as it may have been damaged or in an accident. Install the car seat correctly. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask a trained shop assistant or a local car dealership for help.
- Don’t place a rear-facing car seat on the front passenger seat if your car is fitted with an active passenger airbag. Experts recommend that car seats be positioned behind the lightest person sitting in the front seat.
- Keep a thick piece of cloth in your car to wrap around metal buckles, so as to prevent them from overheating.
- Never buckle two children together, and don’t buckle yourself and your child into the same safety belt.
- Don’t smoke in the car when your children are with you. The smoke is bad for them, and hot ash can be blown back into the car and land in your little one’s eye or on her skin.
- Regularly check that your child’s car seat is still suitable for her weight and size.
- If you’re travelling long distances, service your vehicle, as well as your caravan or trailer if you’re using them, before you set out. Check all your tyres, including the spare, as well as your brakes, shock absorbers, lights, and steering. Keep a first-aid kit in your car.
- Allow time for rest stops every few hours on long journeys.
- Always check that everyone in the car is buckled up, no matter how short the journey. If your child climbs out of her safety seat, stop the car at a safe place and explain to her that you won’t continue with the trip until she’s buckled up.
- Check that the child lock is activated before driving and that the rear windows are closed. Keep any electric windows locked if possible.
- If you stop along the road, keep an eye on your children.
- Your children shouldn’t be allowed to stick their heads or limbs out the window while the car is moving.
- Never leave your children alone in the car. Even a toddler can set it off rolling, or temperatures can rise dangerously inside the car.