Would you let your child, under age 12, sit on the front seat? Or share a safety belt while overloading the back seat?
No? Neither would I, but this was my horrifying reality two weeks ago!
After an innocent conversation with my 7 year old, I discovered two weeks ago, that the transport company we have been using for the past 6 months have been doing exactly that!
My sweet little 7 year old has been put in the front seat, in spite of the fact that international standards state that a child under the age of 12, should NEVER sit in the front seat of a car. She is too small for the front seat and ricks serious injury or even death while sitting in the front seat if the airbag deploys, even in a minor bumper bashing.
Sharing seat belts
And they’re cramming so many kids in the back that the kids have to share seat belts, even though studies have shown that kids sharing a seat belt risk extreme injury due to the clashing of their heads in a potential accident. And more obviously, a seat belt is designed to support and protect ONE body. There is tons of data available about the dangers of double buckling, and yet, school transport companies still do it.
So it it legal?
I had a very, shall we say, heated exchange with the owner of the school transport company. I was convinced that they had contravened their own safety standards because their website states the following:
Our quality assurance and commitment to you
The vehicles used for the transportation of your child/children are well maintained and serviced
That we will ensure safe, secure transportation of your child to the utmost of our abilities and within our control
We will ensure that your child is safely strapped in at all times during transit
We will try to stay as close as possible to the agreed times of collection and delivery. However, variables do occur
We will always try to have the correct seating available to adhere to your child’s individual needs
That your child will not be left at home unattended, nor at the side of the road, when delivery is made
Only a *** employee will be dispatched to collect your child
That as far as possible, we will use only the specified route
Open and honest communication is encouraged
All our drivers are well trained and totally proficient with the collection and delivery
Our drivers are in training during holiday periods to get everyone knowledgeable on all the routes, especially in the case of an emergency
Staff are screened and are required to pass our stringent safety and quality standards
We have mobile contact with all our drivers at all times.
I felt they had failed on the two points I’ve highlighted above. So I started doing my own research because, honestly, my plan was to take the matter further. Especially after the owner of the company blamed us for the poor safety standards. Claiming it was our fault that the kids were seated the way they were because we had not notified them of extra murals in November of 2016 for the year of 2017 and because we had never specifically stipulated that it was unacceptable for us to have our children sharing a seat belt or sitting on the front seat.
Well, hello? I kinda thought that was common sense?
A seat belt is designed for ONE individual and it’s an accepted safety standard that NO child under the age of 12, sits on the front seat.
I took to social media and asked Peggy Mars, from Wheel Well, what the laws state.
As a side note, Peggy is probably the most proficient and passionate person in South Africa to provide comment and guidance in terms of road safety for kids and this is what she had to say:
So there you have it.
It’s not illegal and I strongly feel that this is legislation that needs to be changed. As parents, we go out of our way to practice good road safety with out kids and then we entrust them to transport companies who risk their lives and their safety and hide behind the fact that the law says it’s not illegal, even though, with a small amount of intellect and moral fiber, they must surely know that what they are doing is wrong and unsafe.
Today is the start of the 2017 #CarseatFullstop campaign.
I participated in the campaign last year and this year I am even more passionate about the cause because, even as parents doing everything we can to protect our children, other people are risking their lives and their safety on our roads.
Please, please, I’m asking you to share this post far and wide on all of your social media channels, we need to make parents aware that the transport companies we are trusting with our children’s safety, are in fact, not as safe as we assume, they hide behind loopholes in the law and risk our children’s safety daily.
Edited to add that the law pertaining to car seats and booster seats only applies to private individuals. Did you know that? That any transport company can legally transport your kids without following that law.
Find out more about Car Seat Full Stop here: