As parents, our children’s safety is of the highest priority. Today, there are all sorts of gadgets from child locators to breathing monitors to keep an eagle eye on our children at home and outside.
Yet, a survey by 4 final year students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students of 513 Singaporean parents reported that 78.4% of parents owned child car restraint systems but only 55% regularly used them.
As parents, we would do anything to keep our children safe and healthy. So why is reported car seat usage still low in Singapore?
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In the same survey, the students looked at the reasons why car seat usage is still low in Singapore.
Categorising parents into two groups, drivers and non-drivers, they found that amongst drivers, the biggest barrier to using children’s safety seats was the perceived discomfort of children.
However, non-drivers cited the inconvenience of carrying around a bulky and heavy (not to mention expensive) car seat for every private hire vehicle and taxi.
I can understand that. When my son Jakob outgrew his infant carrier, I had to purchase a large and bulky rear-facing car seat.
It was not compact in the least, and I spent many stressful minutes installing and uninstalling the seat when getting on and off cabs while commuters in the queue behind tutted impatiently. And Jakob’s tantrums in the seat certainly did not make things any easier.
Still, his safety was worth it. Even in countries with good transport infrastructure and advanced standards of safety such as Singapore, accident statistics are shocking, with 3 times as many kids dying in car accidents than in the United States.
According to the KK Women and Children’s Hospital, more than half of the children injured in car accidents had not been properly restrained.
This goes to show that car seats are not optional. They are everyday life-saving mechanisms essential to ensuring the safety of our children on the road.
Choosing the best car seat for your child’s safety needs
Above all, a good car seat is one that is safe and that ticks all the boxes for parents in terms of convenience.
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Child restraints should meet international safety requirements recognized by the Singapore Police, such as the European Standard ECE R44, the American Standard FMVSS 213 or the Japanese Standard JIS D0401-1990.
Of the many out there, the European Standard is the most widely accepted – a testament to its adherence to the high bar of safety set by multiple countries.
When you shop for a car seat, look out for:
- A 5-point harness that secures your child’s shoulders and lap, strapping the body’s strongest parts firmly into place
- A strong backrest that ensures harnesses are installed at the right height, preventing strangulation or twisting of the straps
- Shock absorbent materials that help dissipate the force of an accident to maximise protection
- International Standards Organisation Fix (ISOFIX) connectors that enable swift, easy, and correct installation
- Convertibility into different configurations (forward-facing, rear-facing, and a booster seat) that you will be able to continue to use as your child evolves and grows
What about parents who travel in the city?
Increasingly, the ride-hailing industry is changing to better serve families, with some ride-hailing companies requiring drivers to provide car seats in certain ride options
However, some of these services may require extra charges which add up, and not all drivers carry car seats that are convertible to suit all ages and safety needs. Even the drivers who do carry car seats may not carry rear-facing car seats that are the safest way to travel for small children.
This is a problem that is all too familiar to parents, myself included, who frequently travel with their children around the city in private hire vehicles or taxis.
For these parents, a good car seat would also have to be convenient, compact and portable. And of course, quick and easy installation and removal would be an added bonus to reduce stress during family outings!
Above all, whatever car seat a family chooses to use, safety should not take a back seat. The dream car seat should ideally adhere to an international standard that is most widely recognised and meet your standards by being comfortable, portable and convertible.
And if it fits your lifestyle and travel needs by being compact and easy to install, all the better! By using the right car seat, we can travel with peace of mind, knowing that our little ones are safe and happy.
This article is contributed by David Sandgren, the founder of TinySeats, a first-of-its-kind convertible and portable car seat for children. He is now dedicated to educating parents on the importance of using the right car seats for their children. Check out TinySeats Indigo campaign here.