I love my new car. It not only takes me from A to B, it is also comfortable to drive, I get to listen to the radio and I can go just about anywhere when it’s in 4×4. I’ve got it kitted out as well – real mommy wagon style. Baby wipes in my front drinks compartment, tissues in the middle drinks compartment, spare clothes and jackets in the boot, window shades and car seats for the kids. What is not lost on me though, is that I’m driving over a ton of olive green metal and parts, propelling forward between 1 – 120 km/h. My car can take me places, but it can also take lives if I’m not driving responsibly.
Before drivers get behind the wheel, we all diligently take lessons after passing our learner’s exam. We learn how to parallel park and do hill starts, even though it terrified us and our driving instructor. We passed our driver’s test, posed for identity photos and proudly showed our friends and family our shiny new license. Every year we renew our car license, keep our car road worthy, and insure it in case of an accident or theft. But at what point do people stop following the rules of the road? Why do some drivers feel they can pick and choose which rules to follow and feel justified in breaking the law? I’m asking because if we are going to make South African roads safer, we need to understand the human factors which cause 80-90% of road accidents each year.
As part of the #CarseatFullstop campaign, we are raising awareness of road safety and the importance of buckling up your kids. As I mentioned in my previous campaign post, one of my greatest fears whilst driving is the amount of distracted drivers I see on my daily commute. Those drivers seem to have forgotten that they too are driving a big hunk of metal which will kill it’s occupants, other road users and pedestrians, if driven irresponsibly. Instead of paying attention to the road, they are texting, smoking, intoxicated and doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing, whilst at the wheel.
There are some worrying and very real facts that go along with my observations. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Africa tops the list of drunk-driving related deaths in the world. According to the 2015 Global Status report on Road Safety, 58% of road deaths are alcohol related. You may not get behind the wheel drunk, but you have little control over other drivers on the road. Strapping your child into an age appropriate car seat can reduce the risk of death by 71 % for infants and 54 % for toddlers. I’m particularly cautious driving after sporting events, long weekends and around holidays.
We all have a story to tell about someone close to us who has either died or left permanently disabled from an accident. I have seen the pain that it causes, we all have. We know the risks. We studied for our learners, took our test and felt all grownup when we started driving without our L plates. We felt a sense of responsibility when driving, and promised our parents we would drive safe. So at what point do people ignore the real life tragedies and forget everything they have learnt? I would like you to please make another promise. To promise your children that you will buckle them up in an age-appropriate car-seat or booster seat. To make a promise to your children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and teachers, that you will protect them, as they are loved by many. We want to see all children safely strapped in, not just 15% which is the current statistic.
If the #CarseatFullstop campaign matters to you, please LIKE #CarseatFullstop on Facebook, please SIGN UP for the newsletter, please FOLLOW on Twitter, please FOLLOW on Instagram or on Google+. Please invite your friends and family and colleagues to these platforms. And when you read the #CarseatFullstop stories, please hit the share button.
#CarseatFullstop – no excuses, no ifs or buts. Always, every time.
If you have an old car seat you are no longer using, please drop these seats at a Volvo dealership or get in touch with Wheel Well. Previously owned car seats are cleaned and refurbished by Wheel Well so that they can be donated to families in need. Every child deserves to be safe in a car, and together we can make that happen.
#CARSEATFULLSTOP IS SPONSORED BY VOLVO CARS. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE FREE CHILDREN AND CARS MANUAL HERE.