In the run-up to the Easter holidays, Bakwena N1N4 toll and Wheel Well are collaborating to raise awareness of the importance of road safety when children are passengers in a vehicle. They have also joined forces to initiate a drive to collect as many used car seats as possible in order to donate these to less fortunate families.
Charmaine van Wyk, spokesperson for Bakwena, believes that along with other road safety messages, it is vital to educate people on the dangers of driving a car transporting unrestrained children and to assist families who cannot afford to buy appropriate safety seats.
“It’s tragic that four children die on South African roads daily and that an average of 40 children are injured every day in road crashes,” she adds.
Take a proactive stand for child safety by donating car seats they no longer use!
“Car crashes are the leading external cause of death for children up to the age of 15, with the lower income families being most at risk. The World Health Organisation even predicts that it can overtake HIV/Aids as the leading cause of death by 2020 if current trends continue.
“These statistics could be avoided if underage passengers are correctly restrained. Research reveals that in a crash scenario, child safety seats can reduce injury to babies by up to 70% and by up to 50% in older children. If more parents fully understood the serious dangers associated with unrestrained children in a moving vehicle, they would certainly take the initiative to ensure their children’s safety. However, we also realise that there are parents who simply can’t provide their children with the right restraints and need a helping hand, which is why we’ve joined forces with Wheel Well.”
Established in 2012, Wheel Well has made it their mission to create awareness around the importance of car seats and has addressed the need to make them available to all families, especially those who cannot afford to make this vital investment in their child’s safety. Wheel Well achieves this by collecting and refurbishing used car seats and donating these to families in need.
Peggie Mars, founder and CEO of Wheel Well, believes that people underestimate how quickly an accident can happen and seriously affect younger passengers.
“It’s important to remember that vehicles are designed according to the dimensions of adults and not children,” Mars says.
“It is up to the adults in the car to ensure that they make the vehicle as child friendly as possible, by using the most appropriate car seat for the child being transported.”
According to South African law, children between three and 14 years old being transported on the road must be restrained in a child car or booster seats in the vehicle. Where a special safety seat like this cannot be provided, children must be secured using the vehicle’s seatbelts. If there are no seatbelts, children must only sit in the back of the vehicle. From April 2015, the law will also require children under three to be buckled into car seats.
“Sadly there are just too many people out there who are not in a financial position to comply,” Mars comments. “Now, working together with Bakwena, we are on a concerted drive to collect as many child car seats as we can before Easter, to better ensure the safety of young travellers along the N1 and N4 during this peak travel time. We’re happy to accept car seats in any condition, as we’re able to have them restored to full working condition. Where a used seat is found to be beyond restoration, we will ensure that it is properly recycled.”
Van Wyk appeals to the public to take a proactive stand for child safety by donating car seats they no longer use. Collection points have been set up at Total Petroports along the Bakwena N1N4 at Pumulani and Bapong