Vehicular safety for children


The Nigerian Blogger Reporter

Last week, a young man lost his life in the UK. He was travelling on a Gatwick Express train and leaned out of a window, apparently to check why the train was travelling slowly, when he was struck either by an on-coming train or some other object (at the time of writing this, the circumstances were still being investigated).
It was a horrific and tragic loss of a 24-year old life. Accidents happen, some are unavoidable, freak accidents, but there are circumstances that make up known danger equations.
To avoid them, precautions should be taken for our personal safety and the safety of others sharing the same vehicular space, whether it be motor vehicles, trains, etc. Some of these precautions are forced on us by law, and others are just common sense.
My son is four years old and when riding in my car, he is always strapped in his car seat. I cannot count the number of times we get somewhere and strangers make comments about how he is too “old” to be in a car seat.
Depending on the day, I either let it slide and keep it moving, or I take the time to engage them in a discussion about why he is still in a car seat and will continue to be in a car seat until he is tall enough to be strapped with the car’s safety belt. My son is a precocious little boy. He has energy for days. And like many little children, he is curious.
He wants to take in the sights as we ride along. Being in his car seat allows him to do that comfortably because he gets a boost. When he has to sit in a car without a car seat, the tendency is for him to want to stand and lean towards the window so that he can see what is going on outside the car. This is not peculiar to my son.
Children want to engage with their surroundings. They want to feel like they are a part of everything that is going on around them, so when they are not restrained, they are standing, exploring, and touching buttons, all of which can be dangerous in a moving vehicle.
It is cute when a dog has his head out of the window of a moving car, tongue hanging out, taking in the breeze as the car rolls by. When I see a child’s head outside a car window I go into panic mode. I want to call the attention of the driver or any adult in the car to restrain the child and keep their tiny bodies completely inside the car. I have done this before and each time I was given a look that told me to mind my business. I am not totally deterred though. If I am close enough, I still say something.
Ideally, children up to age 7-11 (depending on their height and weight) should be in a car seat. Because when they are small, the car seat belt may be more dangerous than it is useful, causing serious injury to the neck of a small child.
However, the middle seat with the lap belt is a way to ensure that children who are not in car seats are kept seated and diverted from danger.
Sometime ago, one fine Sunday afternoon, my son and I were on our way to Ikeja when we witnessed a single car accident on Western Avenue, Lagos (around Alaka).
I am not sure what happened but the car was rolling along just fine and the next thing I saw was that it flipped over before coming to a rest on its roof, wheels whirling in the air. A child who looked to be about three or four years old had been thrown out of the car, sat terrified and bleeding on the grassy median. People from a commercial bus that had stopped rushed across the highway to pick up the child and rescue the other passengers in the upturned vehicle.
Thankfully, the boy was conscious and because it was a Sunday, on the usually busy Western Avenue were only a handful of cars, as far as I could see. I don’t know the final outcome of that accident but I had seen enough to further convince me that the derisive comments I get from people over my son using a car seat at his age are worth it for his safety.
In the past week alone, I have seen small children standing and poking their heads out of car windows, and even more distressing, someone driving with a small child seated on his lap.
Apart from the danger of being thrown out of the moving vehicle, a child with his head outside the car window risks being injured by another passing vehicle, or a stationary object such as a tree or pole. They cannot react to or appreciate danger the same way an adult could. Power windows also pose a danger to children. They have been known to kill or cause serious injury to small children who have been strangled, decapitated, had their heads crushed, causing serious brain injury, or had their fingers amputated.
It is neither funny nor cute to have a child seated on one’s lap when driving on public roads. Several things could happen in an accident: if the car is fitted with a driver-side airbag, the child could be decapitated if something happens and the airbag is activated; if the car is not fitted with driver-side airbags and both bodies are thrown forward on impact, the child bears the brunt of the injuries that could be caused by the steering wheel. Because of their size, it will most probably be a head injury.
The World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 states that child restraints reduce the likelihood of a fatal crash by approximately 70 per cent among infants, and between 54 per cent to 80 per cent among young children.
Although the report states that Nigeria is among 53 countries, and only 1 of 3 in Africa, with child restraint laws based on age, weight, height and/or restrictions on children sitting in front seats, compliance/enforcement is very low at a rating of only 2 out of 10 points. To be honest, I don’t know what exactly the regulations are concerning child restraint in Nigeria. I am sure that there are many other parents who are also unaware that there are child restraint regulations.
You may be the safest driver on earth, with many years of driving experience, but you never know what difficulties you will face on the road, when you will have to make a sudden stop, or what weather or traffic conditions you will encounter while driving. We have all become accustomed to using our seat belts while driving. We should give the same consideration to the precious children that ride along with us.
Be safe. Keep the little ones safe.

​Culled from 

0 thoughts on “Vehicular safety for children

  1. Co curricular activities are the part of our education .the students of chanute high school scholars bowl team will be going to the state competition held in grade high school .they are highly motivated about this competition. i really like such posts that promote the co curricular activities . keep sharing this post to motivate and support them .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *