Keeping kids safe in the car

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Although child seats are expensive, they are a very good investment in terms of assuring the safety of children when traveling.

Although child seats are expensive, they are a very good investment in terms of assuring the safety of children when traveling.

CAR rides can be great fun for kids, especially since many adults allow them to play around or let them have a great view outside by letting the kids sit on their laps.

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But road safety advocate Arnel Doria warned that children below 12 years old are vulnerable road usersy since their bodies are too fragile to handle vehicular collisions without sustaining serious injury. Also, there is no law mandating these kids to be in child restraints while in the car, further endangering their lives.

Doria advises four things to remember when you’re driving around with kids.

Invest in a good child restraint.
He said children below 12 are too small to be secured with a seat belt, which is typically designed for adults. Letting kids use one could likewise cause serious injury.

The 2009 United Nations Road Safety Collaboration Manual on Seatbelts and Child Restraints lists four categories of child restraints, based on a child’s age and weight:

• Group 0 or 0+ – rear-facing, infant child seat for those aged under one-year old, weighing less than 13 kilograms;

• Group I – child safety seat for those aged one- to four-years old, weighing nine to 18 kilograms;

• Group II – booster seat for those aged four- to six-years old, weighing 15 to 25 kilograms; and

• Group III – backless booster seat for those aged six- to 11-years old, weighing 22 to 36 kilograms.

Make kids sit in the back.
Doria said kids must be in the back because they cannot cope with the force generated by the impact of the front-seat airbag in many modern cars. “It’s as powerful as Mike Tyson’s punch,” he added.

It’s also illegal since Republic Act 8750 or the Seat Belts Use Act of 1999 prohibits children below six-years old from sitting in the front passenger seat. Making them sit in the back is a far better option.

Never seat kids on your lap.
Children do enjoy sitting on adult’s laps, watching the world whizz by. But Doria said doing so could kill them, since in a collision, they would be sandwiched between the object in front (the dashboard or the front seat, if seated at the back) and the person holding them.

“You will never be able to secure that child in the split-second of a collision,” he said.

Use a car with modern safety features.
Carmakers around the world are now installing universal anchors for child restraints in many of their newest models. Look for acronyms Isofix or Latch (for US-made cars) when considering your next vehicle.

Also, think twice before letting kids ride around in your prized vintage car since many vehicles made before the 1990s don’t have modern safety innovations, such as crumple zones.

“In older cars, the passengers absorb nearly all of the impact forces,” he said. “You really need to think. What do you love more? The car or the kid?”

Doria summed up very well the continuing campaign to protect kids in vehicles: “Protect what you love the most.”

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