Securing children in appropriate child car restraints can reduce the risk of serious road traffic accidents by 8.4 times1. However, a recent survey with 513 parents by four undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) found that while 78.4% of parents own child car restraints, only 55% use them all the time2. To improve child passenger safety on Singapore roads, the four undergraduates have embarked on Singapore’s first ever campaign encouraging parents with children aged 0-10 to secure their children in child car restraints all the time.
Despite the 2012 revision to the Road Traffic Act3 mandating passengers below the height of 1.35m to be secured in child car restraints when travelling in vehicles, child car restraint usage in Singapore is significantly lower compared to other developed countries like Australia with over 90% usage rates4. According to Singapore law, first-time offenders may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months.
While many parents in Singapore may own child car restraints for their children, they are not using them all the time. This is in spite of 94.6% of parents recognising child car restraints to be important in keeping their children safe on the roads. The NTU survey found that the majority of parents who owned family cars (93.7%) also owned child car restraints.
However, for this group of parents, they may not use child car restraints all the time. Top reasons for their non-compliance include their children’s discomfort and reluctance to be secured in child car restraints. Conversely, families who do not own cars tend not to own and use child car restraints, with many citing the additional inconvenience of carrying the child car restraint 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 light of the less than stellar child car restraint usage rate in Singapore, the campaign, The Safe Seat, was established with the aims to raise awareness and encourage parents to use child car restraints all the time as child car restraints can save a child’s life during an accident. This is the first-ever campaign that focuses solely on child passenger safety. Child car restraints have to be height, weight and age appropriate to ensure that the child is safely protected. The Safe Seat is supported by Automobile Association of Singapore (AA Singapore), KKH, Taxi Baby Co. and Car Club.
“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. “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.”
Mr. Lee Wai Mun, CEO of AA Singapore urged, “More efforts can be taken in Singapore to remind parents about the dangers of not using child restraints. We believe that educational campaigns like The Safe Seat will help to increase awareness and improve attitudes towards child car restraint usage. Parents are also encouraged to make use of child-friendly materials like AA Singapore’s ‘Be a Road Safe Kid’ storybook to educate their children and practise proper child passenger safety habits together.”
The team will be hosting ‘The Safe Seat Day’ at library@harbourfront on 3 March, featuring talks by doctors from KKH and Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Ms. Amy Mohd from Taxi Baby Co. The event is open to members of the public. Parents and children can look forward to a fun-filled day of learning about child passenger safety. More details about the event can be found on The Safe Seat’s Facebook page.
1Road traffic accidents in children: the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’. Singapore Medical Journal, 59(4), 210-216.
2Survey conducted online by Nanyang Technological University students in November 2018, among 513 parents with children aged 0–10. Respondents were recruited via convenience and snowball sampling.
3Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Wearing of Seat Belts) Rules 2011
4Child restraint fitting stations reduce incorrect restraint use among child occupants. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 43(3), 1128-1133.
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