Fact: One out of every four parents admits to not buckling up their kids in car seats. These parents now have less than a month to install car seats before an amendment to the National Road Traffic Act comes into effect.

“As of 30 April 2015, it will be illegal for a child under three years of age to be sitting on a lap, standing or sitting unrestrained while travelling in a car,” Department of Transport spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said yesterday.

He went on to warn negligent parents that violation of this act would result in a fine that would be decided before the month was out.

Good to know: The new law does not apply to public transport, including minibus taxis.

A South African child is twenty times more likely to die on our roads than anywhere else in the world

“According to UNICEF, road accidents are the leading preventable cause of death in children under five years old in South Africa” explains 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell, adding, “The Road Traffic Management Corporation says that we have more than 700 000 crashes a year with three children dying a day on our roads.”

If car seats were used safely and correctly, many of these deaths could be avoided

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (aged one to four years) by 54% in passenger vehicles. Booster seats use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged four to eight years when compared with seat belt use alone.

It’s not just about using a car seat, but using it correctly

1st for Women shares these tips for car seat safety:

  • Buy the best car seat you can afford. Beware of bargains, old and secondhand car seats. They may have some unseen damage.
  • If you must use a secondhand seat, make sure it has the original instructions, all its parts (check the manual), and hasn’t been in a serious accident or recalled. Stick with car seats that are fewer than five years old. There’s usually an expiration date on the seat.
  • Always double-check the car seat’s label to ensure it’s the right one for your child’s age, weight and height.
  • Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible – at least until the age of two or until he/she reaches the seat’s maximum rear-facing height and weight limits.
  • Your child should ride in a safety seat with a five-point harness until he/she weighs at least 18,5 kg, or until his shoulders no longer fit under the harness straps.
  • Your child should ride in a booster seat from the time he/she weighs 18,5 kg and is at least four years old until he/she’s 1,5 metres tall and at least eight years old.
  • Make sure your seat is installed correctly.
  • Check to be sure that car seats don’t tip forward or slide from side to side more than two-and-a-half centimetres, and that boosters are secured with a lap-and-shoulder belt.
  • Make sure your child is secured in the seat properly by ensuring that the car seat harness straps are snug enough to hold your child firmly in the event of an accident.
  • Buckle your child in, making sure the harness straps aren’t twisted, and then use the mechanism to pull the harness tight. You shouldn’t be able to pinch any harness fabric between your fingers.
  • Slide the plastic retainer clip that holds the two straps together up to armpit level before securing it. If the clip is too low, your child could be ejected from his seat in a crash.
  • When you’re putting your child in his seat, double-check to be sure that the seat is buckled tightly to the car. Forward-facing safety seats come with a strap so you can tether the seat to an anchor point in the car for extra protection.
  • Set a good example by always wearing your own seat belt.

In the meantime, if you see someone driving around with their children not in a car seat or safely buckled up, call 0861 400-800 with the car’s licence plate and the date and the RTMC will send them a warning letter. It could save a child’s life.

Article credit: http://www.all4women.co.za/334041/lifestyle/parenting/new-law-buckle-up-your-kids-or-you-could-be-fined