According to the Singapore Medical Journal, securing children in appropriate child car seats can reduce the risk of serious traffic accidents by 8.4 times. Despite the obvious high risk, many parents in the city-state are not are not using them, although they own it.
A recent survey with 513 parents by four undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) found out that while 78.4% of parents own child car seats, only 55% use them all the time. Some of the main reasons for their non-compliance include their children’s discomfort and reluctance to be secured in child car seats. Conversely, families who do not own cars tend not to own and use child car seats, with many citing the additional inconvenience of carrying the child car seats around.
“A child car restraint is designed specifically to keep young children safe in motor vehicles as children may not be adequately protected with seat belts,” explained Dr Chong Shu-Ling, Senior Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH). “In the event of an accident, the child can potentially be flung out of the car if he or she is not using a child car restraint.”
In 2012, a revision was made to the Road Traffic Act mandating passengers below the height of 1.35m to be secured in child car seats when travelling in vehicles. In spite of this, the usage of these seats are significantly lower in the country compared to other developed countries like Australia with over 90% usage rates.
Based on the law in Singapore, first-time offenders may be fined up to S$1,000 or jailed up to three months if convicted.
As such, the four undergraduates from NTU have embarked on Singapore’s first-ever campaign to encourage parents with children aged 0-10 to secure their children in child car seats all the time.
The campaign, The Safe Seat, was established with the aims to raise awareness and encourage parents to use child car seats all the time as it can save a child’s life during an accident. Although it may seem straight-forward, child car seats have to be height, weight and age appropriate to ensure that the child is safely protected.
“I have encountered many parents telling me that they take their young child out of the child car restraint because they seem uncomfortable,” said Ms Elise Mawson, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor and Founder of Taxi Baby Co., who is one of the supporters of the campaign along with Automobile Association of Singapore (AA Singapore), KKH and Car Club.
Mawson added, “The reality is that it’s normal for every single child around the world to cry and fuss in their child car restraint; it’s indicative of normal development and shouldn’t be feared or used as an excuse. Child car restraints are the only way to protect children.”
In order for the public to learn more about the importance of child car seats safety, the team will be hosting ‘The Safe Seat Day’ at [email protected] on 3 March (Sunday). The event, which is open to the public, will feature talks by doctors from KKH and Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Ms Amy Mohd from Taxi Baby Co..
More details about the event can be found on The Safe Seat’s Facebook page.