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Many parents don't use child car restraints. Why?
We’re a nation that values family above all else. So why do so many parents fail to use child car restraints (CCRs) such as car-seats or boosters, and put the lives of children at risk? Being a father of two and having lived in Singapore for the past 26 years, this is an issue close to my heart.
So often I see children on grandmothers’ laps sitting in the front or back seat, and worse, kids standing in the front footwell, nose pressed against the windows.
Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury for children. And the data is clear; buckling up in cars saves lives. The use of car-seats, boosters and seatbelts reduces serious and fatal injuries to children by up to 80%, according to studies by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Children under 1.35m tall are also legally required to be in an approved and appropriate child restraint when travelling in a vehicle. Otherwise, parents risk being fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to three months. In the case of a second offence, the penalty is a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment up to six months.
Yet a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) study found that almost half of parents polled do not actively put their children in car restraints.
The survey, conducted by NTU students in 2019, found that out of 513 parents with children younger than 10 years old, about 78 per cent said they own car restraints, but only 55 per cent use them all the time.
The data clearly shows Singapore is lagging behind other developed nations such as New Zealand where at least 90% of parents use child restraints, according to a latest WHO report on road safety.
Car seat safety is generally such an ingrained part of motoring in these countries that not using a restraint isn’t an option.
Sadly, that’s not the case for us here in Singapore.
In fact, a study published by the Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) found that many parents believe not using child restraints in cars is actually the norm.
So why is this the case?
The 2020 SMJ study set out to answer this question and produced some interesting findings about parental knowledge and beliefs on the use of child car restraints.
Some of the main reasons for non-compliance were lack of parental knowledge such as the belief that CCRs are unnecessary; or that parents are uncertain about which child appropriate car restraint to use. Another common barrier is difficult child behaviour such as refusing to stay in the car restraint.
The report concluded on a positive note, though, highlighting the fact that these are all issues that can thankfully be fixed.
I’m hopeful this will happen sooner rather than later and that stakeholders will continue to push forward to bring about a change in attitudes and behaviours. It would be easy to point fingers and play the blame game but that would likely be counterproductive. As parents, though, perhaps we can start by doing our bit such as seeking out appropriate information on child car restraints; and even calling out our friends and families, including grandparents, when they fail to buckle up a child.
At the end of the day, though, the message is loud and clear and can’t be refuted or ignored any longer;
BUCKLING UP REALLY DOES SAVE LIVES.
Find out all you need to know about using the correct age-appropriate child car restraint.
 Singapore Medical Journal
 National Technological Study
 Word Health Organisation study