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Published: Wednesday April 11, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday May 26, 2013 MYT 12:43:17 AM

Parents must think of kids’ safety when driving

A SURVEY has shown that Malaysian motorists are alarmingly lax over safety for themselves and their children.

Our front-page exclusive report on Monday revealed that awareness of vehicle safety has in effect declined over the past eight years.

The study by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) found that 90% of 236 children aged four and below were not placed in child safety seats while in a vehicle. Worse, 11% of 131 drivers drove with children on their laps.

The ongoing survey is to observe how children are being transported to pre-school.

As can be seen from the preliminary findings, parents are still under the impression that accidents are unlikely to occur on short trips and in residential areas where most pre-schools are located.

The harsh reality is that deaths and injuries caused by road accidents are among the highest in such areas.

Enlightened parents invest in child safety seats, knowing full well that the life of their children is in their hands. A child, not properly secured, is highly vulnerable from any impact, even at low speeds.

Small children are like projectiles. In a car there is nothing to hold them back if they are not restrained.

It is the saddest thing in the world when a child dies, especially when it can be prevented.

It is now a common enough sight to see toddlers and young children having a wild time at the back of the car. The rear seat belts remain mere accessories.

In many developed countries, laws making it mandatory for the wearing of seat belts by the young are already in place.

There are also laws prohibiting children under 12 from sitting in the front seats.

Yet in Malaysia, a child sitting on the lap of the father while he is driving is not uncommon.

According to Miros design and instrumentation unit head Muammar Quadaffi Mohd Ariffin, some parents complain that their children cry non-stop when placed in a safety seat.

His pertinent response is: “It's better to hear them crying. Or would you prefer never to hear them cry again?”

It is time we take safety in vehicles seriously. Adults and children must be properly belted up.

Rear seat belts are now compulsory but enforcement is lax.

We should now consider making child safety seats compulsory for children below the age of three.

We need to start somewhere. And the best place may just be outside the delivery room.

In the UAE, one hospital launched its Kids in Safety Seats campaign by giving free safety seats to the families of babies born in the hospital.

Even if our hospitals do not want to give out free seats, can they not be actively involved in promoting the use of such seats, the same way they promote breast-feeding?

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