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SA parents are buckling up their kids: More than 19 000 says 'safety first'

2017-07-06 12:01

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 - Earlier in June, Wheels24 reported that a new car seat 'safety harness' was available to the public as an "alternative" for parents who can't afford pricey car seats.

We asked Wheels24 readers whether they buckle-up their children and our homepage poll garnered more than 22 000 responses.

Reassuringly, more than 19 000 or 86% of respondents won't move their vehicle until their kids are strapped in.  

Here's what readers said: 

  • My car doesn't move if the kids aren't strapped in - 19696 votes (86%)
  • I often forget to buckle the kids up 5% 1071 votes (5%)
  • I can’t afford it, it's too expensive 10% 2221 votes (10%)

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

Wheel Well's Peggie Mars 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.

"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. 

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.

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."

READ: Readers respond - Biggest reason for parent's not buckling up their kids

Parent24's Zayaan Schroeder: "Car seats are a non-negotiable for me. Watching crash test videos is enough to make any parent make sure that their kids are in SABS approved car seats. If it hasn't been tested, my kid is not being driven around in it. There is no way I would use a cheap alternative to save a buck because my kid's life is worth more to me than that money saved."

Watch the shocking crash test below:

Readers respond

Colleen Barnes: "It's becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to assess the safety of products. Consumers no longer trust the sincerity of those critising new, alternative cheaper products because it is common knowledge that monopolistic manufacturers do anything and everything to safeguard their market share. Hence when cheaper, competitive products are discredited, consumers remain skeptical.

"This has been evident with monopolistic pharmaceutical who criticise cheaper generic products or fund research to discredit competitive products. 

"If manufacturers of baby car seats are really that concerned about safety of babies they will not price baby car seats beyond the pockets of working families. It is their greed for unconscionable profits that leave many babies at risk because car seats have become unaffordable for most families.  

"The cheaper alternatives at least provide some measure of safety for families who cannot afford the allegedly safer car seats that are ridiculously priced." 

Lee Rato Mokoena: "I am a HUGE 'spokesperson' for car-seat safety. I wish we would have the same laws in SA like the US that if found guilty of no car seat you get arrested. Point blank. It makes me cringe when parents are strapped in all cosy with their seabelts, and the child is wondering around in the backseat not strapped in. If you can afford a car, you most definitely can afford a car seat."

Lorrin Jarvis: "I am very happy that you published the article about these 'cheap and nasty' car seats now available online and informing the public about their non-existent safety standards. We need to educate the general public about what options they do have and how vitally important it is for children to be strapped into a vehicle."

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