I’m quite shocked as I drive around town just how many parents have their kids running wild in the car, particularly when the parents themselves are strapped in. Aside from the fact that it is illegal, and if your child does die in an accident where they were not strapped in you are legally up for manslaughter, yes, aside from this, it seems counterintuitive to me that parents would buckle up themselves and not think to look out for the safety of their precious offspring.
For a while, I drove around with a sign in my back window that said, “Do you love your child? Then why are they not wearing a seatbelt?”
When I’ve actually confronted people about this, the most common reason they give is that the kids don’t like wearing a seatbelt or being in a car chair and that they scream or have tantrums and they just can’t deal with it every time they get in the car.
And I can totally relate. My own kids went through a phase of screaming when being strapped in (and sometimes for the entire journey) and when you’re sleep deprived and overworked this can be too much for your frazzled nerves to handle. And I still say…
You are the parent, and there are times that you need to put your foot down. There are going to be many more moments in your parenting journey where your kids will not be happy with the decisions that you make, and the sooner they understand that you are the parent and it is your job to keep them safe whether they like that or not, the better.
I love negotiating with my kids and teaching them how to make a strong argument for things that they would like changed. However, some rules are simply non-negotiable. And safety needs to be non-negotiable.
I promise you that they will not scream every time they get strapped in for the rest of their lives. They will do it a couple of times and once they realise that it is a non-negotiable and that you are not going to be swayed by tantrums, they will stop.
If you need some incentive to actually enforce this life-saving safety routine, here is some shocking, but essential information from the Child Accident Prevention Foundation:
- Passenger deaths in children are the 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in South Africa, and that’s not even looking at paralysis, disabilities or other injuries.
- An adult is guilty of a criminal offence if he/she should allow a child younger than 14 years to travel unrestrained in a motor vehicle. That’s a criminal offence, not a traffic fine.
- At 25km/hour a child sitting or standing next to the driver can be killed in an emergency stop if its head hits the windscreen/interior of the car. Yes, you read that correctly – 25km/hour.
- At 40km/hour the blow to a child’s head is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters onto concrete. We are not talking about speeding down the highway to Durban here – we’re talking trips down the road to school.
Please, please rethink the safety of your incredible, beautiful, awesome children and buckle up. The discomfort you’ll have the deal with when they have those few tantrums in the car is nothing compared to the suffering you’ll endure if your child is killed or disabled because you didn’t want to insist on safety first. We can all save lives, and it starts with our own kids… after all, aren’t the lives you created the ones you’d most like to save?!