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New car seat safety harness in SA 'could be harmful' - Wheel Well

2017-06-05 07:30

NEW IN SA: This is the portable cotton child cars seat harness being sold online in South Africa. Image: dudesgadget.com

Janine Van der Post

Cape Town - Wheel Well, an organisation which focuses on child road safety in SA, says there's a new "dangerous" child seat harness available online to the South African market.


The car seat harness being advertised appears to be an affordable alternative to car seats. What looks like a great option for your little one, is actually "just some material woven in to a harness which the car's seat belt slides through," claims Wheel Well.

Several years ago, the Daily Mail reported, and conducted crash tests, on this type of car seat being sold online, claiming that is an "unsafe alternative" for child car seats. The tests revealed that the 'seat' - which is actually just a cloth harness - breaks in crash tests at speeds slower than 60km/h.

Read the original article here.

Pennie Mars from Wheel Well says: "All parents want to protect their children as best they can. 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."

Mars explains that this has led to thousands of unsuspecting parents across the world purchasing inexpensive “portable” car seat harnesses online. These “cheaper” options offer parents a false sense of security and do not help to prevent injury or death.

What happens to a child in a car crash – expert

"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," she adds. 

Wheels24 contacted the website selling the product asking about its legality and safety. Dudes Gadget, which sells the product locally, says: "I don't don't know if it's legal or not. Our product isn't signed by any agencies."

According to the website where these harnesses are being sold, demand is so high that the product requires a 3-4 week waiting period. 

The site states the following: "IMPORTANT: This seat-belt vest MUST be used in conjunction with a seat belt. This seat was designed to have the seat belt slide through the middle pad for safety."


How do you feel about cars seats for children? Do your buckle your kids in? Do you think it should be more affordable so everyone can keep their children safe in cars? Tell us your story via emailFacebook and Twitter.


Watch the shocking crash test below


Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "Being a mother to a toddler, it's imperative that my child is always buckled up in her car seat. To be honest, there are days when she outright refuses to be strapped in and I think 'is there no other alternative?' It's a draining experience and often I'm left bawling my eyes out, along with my child, but  eventually she ends up in her seat.

"This 'cheap' harness now available online in SA (for about R520) could very-well be beneficial to parents who can't afford a car seat. If that's the dilemma, rather save up another month or two for an extra R100 or R200 and you can still purchase a car seat for less than R1000. Your child's safety if paramount and it's well worth more than a few hundred rands. Or, parents can contact Wheel Well - the organisation helps collect donated second-hand car seats and distributes it those families who can't afford to buy one."

Parent24 editor Sophia Swanepoel says: "When it comes to your children’s safety, it’s simple: don’t take shortcuts.

"Always check the safety credentials of car seats – they should be approved by the SABS. Not just because it guarantees a certain standard of safety, but also because it became the law in 2015. If you strap your under-three into an inferior car seat, you will be fined."

According to the Daily Mail, authorities in the United Kingdom have conducted crash tests on cheaply made and untested “portable” car seat harnesses and the results are sobering, says Mars. The article, and video below, shows how these cheap imported seats disintegrates at a low-speed collision of under 60km/h, propelling a crash test dummy into the front of the vehicle. 

Mars says: "To put this in perspective, a normal child car seat is tested to survive impacts at speeds in excess of 100km/h. 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. In South Africa, we adhere to European standards and the car seat must feature an orange European Economic Commission stamp of approval sticker."

Child car seats: All you need to know

"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!

"Prevent a lifetime of regret and make sure you buy the correct and legal seat for your child. If you cannot afford a correctly certified car seat new, rather be in contact with us at Wheel Well by sending an email here."

MasterDrive SA's Eugene Herbert says we have to take responsibility of our childrens' safety on the road: The current news focusses on violence toward children and the harm it creates – rightly so – but many of us cant physically do something about it other than abstain from such acts.

"Here though is an opportunity for all of us who have and/or drive with children, to secure them in a responsible, proactive manner which will prevent violence, albeit of a different type, being inflicted upon them."

Watch Herbert explain the importance of car seats below:  

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