Global status report

The Global status report on road safety 2013 presents information on road safety from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population. Read more..>

Why do we still take child safety so lightly?
Monday, 09 April 2012 13:09

Almost all our road safety efforts, almost always, fail.  We have tried dozens of different techniques to change public attitudes.   They haven’t worked.  Yet.
One we have not tried is embarrassment.   So here, with my apologies in advance, is a pilot test of its efficacy.   Here goes: 
“There is empirical evidence to suggest that many Kenyan motorists are quite ready to risk the lives of their babies.  Perhaps because they’ve got several, and can always have another one.”   
An outrageous suggestion, of course.    But how often do you see a child safety device in a car?  Or in a shop?

Probably not very often, and certainly not enough in a country whose population is growing at record-breaking rates, is famous for large families, drives cars much older than the latest safety standards, and has a predominance of inexperienced and unqualified drivers.
So our road traffic is among the most dangerous on the planet, and we are literally knee-deep in babies and toddlers.   You might think that child safety seats and belts would be quite a high profile item.  In fact, to ensure that no small child ever travelled in a car without a child safety seat and belt, virtually every car on Kenya’s roads would have to be fitted with such equipment. 
Plainly, they are not.   So why not?
After all, child safety seats are super-abundant in parts of the world where motoring is relatively safe, where all drivers are qualified and most are experienced, where families are small, and cars meet the newest and highest built-in standards.  Peek into car windows  in any car park and you will see dozens fitted with contraptions for tiny people.  Watch the streets – every babe or toddler in any vehicle will be strapped in like a miniature astronaut.   Go shopping, and child safety gismos will be displayed in an astonishing number and range of outlets – not just car accessory dukas, but in supermarkets, toy shops, furniture stores, bicycle boutiques, and not least in women’s clothes shops.
Come on, parents! And come on, shopkeepers!  A baby seat is not an optional extra for any car owner with a young family.  Even on a tight budget, it is the first item you should buy – even before you fill the tank with petrol.
Babies are exceptionally vulnerable in cars.  Even the slightest braking or cornering or bump can hurl them about.  In a full accident they will bounce around the inside of the car like a loose football.  For any person much less than a metre tall, a standard seatbelt is not a safety device – it is a garotte.  Ask the doctors at Gertrude’s Garden!
By Gavin Bennett