Be­ware cheap and deadly car seats

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MO­TOR­ING STAFF

DRIV­ERS who al­low their chil­dren to travel un­buck­led in a ve­hi­cle are the very def­i­ni­tion of un­fit par­ents, but those who do take the trou­ble to strap in their chil­dren should be­ware: not all car seats are created equal.

Un­sus­pect­ing par­ents across the world have been pur­chas­ing cheaply-made por­ta­ble car seat har­nesses on­line that have proven to be deadly, of­fer­ing lit­tle or no safety ben­e­fit. Crash tests con­ducted by UK au­thor­i­ties have re­vealed shock­ing re­sults, with these cheap seats dis­in­te­grat­ing at a low-speed col­li­sion of un­der 50km/h, pro­pel­ling a crash test dummy into the front of the ve­hi­cle. A nor­mal child car seat is tested to sur­vive im­pacts at speeds over 110km/h.

“These cheaper op­tions of­fer par­ents a false sense of se­cu­rity and do not help to pre­vent in­jury or death,” says Peg­gie Mars, founder of Wheel Well, a South African road safety aware­ness or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cussing on chil­dren.

“When it comes to child car safety, the cor­rect child car seat can seem ex­tremely ex­pen­sive and some par­ents may be tempted to choose a cheaper al­ter­na­tive.

“We are anx­ious to in­form par­ents of the haz­ards of us­ing this kind of de­vice in­stead of a proper child car seat which con­forms to EU reg­u­la­tions,” says Mars.

With the huge forces in­volved in a car crash, par­ents must en­sure they pur­chase car seats that ad­here to cur­rent and tested reg­u­la­tions and stan­dards. South Africa ad­heres to Euro­pean stan­dards and the car seat must fea­ture an orange Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion stamp of ap­proval sticker.

“Par­ents need to be aware that any de­fects and short­com­ings of a car seat will be­come ap­par­ent dur­ing a crash … and that will be far too late,” says Mars.

“Pre­vent a life­time of re­gret and make sure you buy the cor­rect and le­gal seat for your child.”

Wheel Well col­lects and re­fur­bishes used chil­dren’s car seats to dis­trib­ute them to less for­tu­nate fam­i­lies. If you have a car seat you would like to do­nate or you re­quire a seat, con­tact the or­gan­i­sa­tion via email at peg­gie@ wheel­well.co.za, or visit the www. wheel­well.co.za web­site.

Cheap seat dis­in­te­grated in low-speed UK crash test and hurled the child dummy into the front of the car.

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