When travelling in a vehicle, the safety of a child is undoubtedly a paramount consideration for any parent.
As such, I was perturbed to learn, when I took a CityCab Hyundai i40 sedan with my wife and kids, that the child safety lock on this very common taxi model can be easily overridden.
Unlike other taxis such as the Hyundai Sonata and the much older Toyota Crown, where the child safety lock is a separate switch from the door handle and can be activated either by the passenger or the driver, the child safety lock on the i40 can only be controlled by the driver.
There is no individual child safety lock on each of the doors.
Shockingly, however, all it takes for a passenger to override this child safety lock is simply to pull twice on the door handle.
The first pull deactivates the child safety lock, with the indicator light on the driver's dashboard turning off. A second pull of the door handle causes the door to open immediately.
No excessive force is required and the two pulls do not have to occur in quick succession.
As such, it is not difficult to imagine a child with restless hands accidentally opening the car door by pulling twice on the handle during the course of a ride.
The indicator light on the dashboard is faint and its going off can easily go unnoticed by the driver, preoccupied as he is with monitoring road conditions.
While it is true that parents should always supervise their children, surely the surprising ease with which the lock can be turned off is a cause for concern.
If my experience is truly indicative of the normal functioning of the i40, I strongly suggest that a warning sticker be pasted next to all the door handles to advise parents of this issue.
Drivers of the i40 model should also be made aware of this technical quirk in their vehicle and advise their passengers accordingly, especially those with young children in tow.
Finally, I urge the taxi companies to pay more attention to child safety when selecting the next car model that will ply our streets.
Even if there have been no accidents due to the i40's design, one wonders if there might have been many close calls that were unreported.
Daniel Ng Peng Keat (Dr)