Are you paying enough attention to your child’s safety in a car or taxi? A total of 132 children aged 12 and below were injured in road traffic accidents in the first half of this year, up from 128 in the same period last year.
“We can avoid and prevent needless tragedies, and more can be done to educate and instil road safety habits in young children,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Faishal Ibrahim at the closing of the 37th annual Shell Traffic Games – which tests pupils’ road safety knowledge – at the Road Safety Community Park in East Coast.
In his speech, Associate Professor Faishal noted that children are vulnerable as they may not understand the dangers present on the road, and their size makes them less visible to motorists.
Three educational animation videos for children were also launched at the event. The videos are a collaboration between the Singapore Road Safety Council, students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media, the Traffic Police and oil company Shell.
They aim to educate pupils on key road safety practices – the kerb drill; looking out for blind spots; and the dangers of crossing the road while distracted.
Since Jan 1, 2012, passengers below the height of 1.35m must be secured in child restraints, booster seats or adjustable seat belts while travelling in a vehicle.
First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months.
Otherwise, the wrong child restraint may be fatal or cause other injuries instead of saving the child, Mr Gerard Pereira, training manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, told The Straits Times.
Babies up to nine months, weighing up to 10kg: Infants should be placed in a rear-facing infant capsule in the back seat.
Toddlers from nine months to four years, weighing 9kg to 18kg: Younger toddlers buckled in a rear-facing car seat in the back. A forward-facing seat can be used once a child outgrows the old seat.
Older children from five to eight years, weighing 19kg to 36kg: Strapped in forward-facing car seat in the back. Adjustable seat belts should be used if they outgrow their booster seats.
According to Mr Pereira, parents should have their young children seated at the back, and try their best to avoid placing child seats in front.
If it is necessary, use rear-facing seats.
This is because the airbags in the front, while crucial to saving an adult’s life, could suffocate a child due to the explosive action.
While 10 or 11 is usually the age when children can ride safely without a booster seat, they should ideally pass the five-step test.
This test determines if it is safe for the child to use the regular seat belts in the vehicle.
At present, the law does not require passengers below 1.35m to be secured if they are seated in the back of a taxi. This also applies to buses, other than those used to ferry a child to and from school (bus owners must then install forward-facing seats with retractable three-point shoulder belts).
While it can be a pain to lug around their own car seats, Mr Pereira feels it is a necessary practice for all parents.
But should a car seat not be available, he said parents should always ensure they wear seat belts and hold onto their infant or child tightly in the backseat.
Text: Lee Min Kok/ Straits Times
Additional Reporting: Atika Lim
Photos: Straits Times