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Child car seats and boosters in Singapore. The full facts
A shocking 94 per cent of children here in Singapore are not safe in cars.
That’s according to a 2016 report of the International Journal Of Environment Research And Public Health, which found only 6.1 per cent of children (12 and below) in Singapore are placed in proper child restraint seats.
Studies show that the use of child car restraints — such as child car seats, booster seats and seat belts — can reduce the incidence of death in road traffic accidents by 50 to 70 per cent.
So, what’s the law on child car seats in Singapore?
The law in Singapore requires anyone below the height of 1.35m to be secured with an appropriate restraint, booster seat or adjustable seatbelt. Those 1.35m or taller are expected to wear a seatbelt irrespective of age. Under the Road Traffic Act, drivers and passengers found not using a seatbelt or appropriate restraints could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both.
Regulations aside, seatbelts have been found to be 60% effective at preventing fatal injuries and 32% effective at preventing serious injuries. This is especially critical with regards to children. Consider the following scenario: In a crash at 48 kph, an adult back-seat passenger without a seatbelt is thrown forward with the force of 3.5 tons -- the weight of an elephant. Imagine what would happen to an unsecured child.
It is best not to take young babies on unnecessary car journeys. In fact, paediatric researchers advise that car journeys with infants should be restricted to no more than half an hour. If you have to travel with baby, however, do make sure that he or she is in a properly secured child seat. Where possible, have an adult sit next to the baby to check on its breathing as there have been reports of deaths of infants who have been left in a sitting position, including in car seats.
Buckle up safely
Here’s a guide to choosing car seats for your child:
Before you buy or hire a car seat, new or second hand, make sure that it can be fitted into your particular car model.
If you are buying second-hand seats, check with the vendor that the restraint you are considering has not exceeded its expiry date. Child car seats have an expiry date and it is best to stick to this as not doing so may put your child’s safety at risk.
Also make sure that the car seat comes with its own instruction manual.
Don’t forget to assess the condition of the seat. If there is wear and tear in the straps, buckles or hard-case shell, safety will be compromised. For second-hand baby capsules, the restraint must be a harness, not the old-fashioned Velcro body band.
Types of child car seats
Consider the needs of your growing child. The main styles available are baby capsules (newborns to 6 months), rear-facing car seats (newborn to 2 years), forward-facing car seats (2 years to 5 years) and booster seats (5 years until seatbelts fit properly).
- Baby Capsule: This is a car seat classic that offers protection for babies. The two-piece design is rear-facing (until babies are old enough to have head control) and features a portable carrier that fits within a hard shell and anchors by an adjustable harness.
- Rear Facing: The advantage of a rear-facing car seat is that it is designed to transition. While starting off in the rear-facing position, the seat can then be turned around to assume the standard front-facing position once your baby is big enough. Latest figures show too that children in rear facing car seats are 500% safer than children in forward facing car seats.
- Capsule/Pram Combo: This original European design is practical in that parents can take their baby from the car to the pram without disturbing him or her. It also means one less device to buy. This design is suitable for newborns to one-year-olds (13 kilograms).
- Booster Seats: These are for older children who have outgrown their car seats but are not ready to sit unassisted in the car. KK Women and Children’s Hospital advises that children above five years old and below 1.4 metres should travel in a booster seat.
- Seatbelt: Children can graduate to an adult seatbelt only when the seatbelt fits them. The lap belt should fit across the upper thighs and shoulder belt across the chest.
It is always good practice to have your capsule fitted well before the baby’s due date so that it is in place and safely installed, ready for the return journey home with baby from the hospital.
Note this: KK Women and Children’s Hospital advises that in the presence of an active air bag, a rear-facing car seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car.
Note that the United Nations, which sets safety standards for car seats, issued a ban against backless booster seats for children weighing less than 22 kg and below 125cm tall. This ban has already been enforced in some countries.
Taxis and child seatbelts
Taxis are exempted from the child restraint requirement as it would not be reasonable or practical for public service vehicles to carry a number and variety of child seats of different-sizes that are suitable for children of different ages. That said, children below the height of 1.35m can only ride in the rear of the taxi.
This is to mitigate the risks involved if there’s an accident. Research shows that children are at greater risk of injury when travelling in the front seat without proper seat belts or restraints.
Transporting children in private hire cars such as Grab
According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), all passengers below 1.35 metres must be belted up with age-appropriate child restraint devices when travelling in a private-hire vehicle. For more information, please visit the Singapore Police Force here.
Check out GrabFamily which is said to be the largest child-friendly ride-hailing fleet in Singapore. All GrabFamily rides are equipped with one child restraint device for children aged 1 – 7 years old, below 1.35 metres in height.
Between 4 – 7 years old or Between 1 – 1.35 metres – they will provide one booster seat. For more information go to GrabFamily here.
Child passenger safety technician
Making sure your child is in the appropriate car or booster seat can save his or her life. Heed this piece of advice from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital: Children 12 years and younger should not sit in the front seat. If you need further help choosing or using any car seat, you can also get in touch with the hospital’s certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
Name: Elise Mawson
Organisation: Taxi Baby Co.
Contact: 9070 3351
Name: Jolene Gan
Organisation: Taxi Baby Co.
Contact: 9070 3351
For more information on choosing the right child car seat go to TaxiBaby.
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