Why It Matters

Driving home child safety

In May 2005, a toddler sitting on his mother's lap in the front seat was flung forward and killed when the car he was in crashed into a trailer.

Soon after, the Traffic Police launched operations, nabbing and warning a number of motorists for not restraining their children with proper devices.

By August that year, new enhanced rules were introduced.

Fast forward to the present day, and it appears we are still taking safety on the roads for granted.

The KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital found that of the children aged 16 and below brought in injured from motor accidents because they were not wearing restraints, infants under one year old had the highest proportion of non-compliance.

All too often, these babies are held in the arms of a passenger.

The study, which was conducted by KKH on 2,468 infants and children injured in traffic accidents between January 2012 and April last year, also found that about half (51.1 per cent) of the children riding in a car were not properly restrained.

And it is not just cars. Of those injured while on a bicycle or motorcycle, 70 per cent were not wearing helmets or were not seated in bicycle seats meant for children.

The law is clear - drivers and passengers must belt up, with passengers under 1.35m to be secured with an appropriate restraint, booster seat or adjustable seat belt.

And drivers and pillion riders on motorcycles must wear helmets or face penalties.

It is also illegal to carry any child under 10 years old as a pillion.

But clearly, adults are lax about their children's safety.

While children receive road safety education in school, the onus is on parents to ensure that they lead by example.

Car manufacturers can make child restraints and put reminders in vehicles about safety, but these work only if mindsets are changed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2017, with the headline 'Driving home child safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe