Buckle-up: seat belts save lives !!
Every year in South Africa around 10 000 people die and another 150 000 people are injured in road traffic accidents. Chilling figures, with the December holidays upon us. The human loss is traumatic but the economic cost is huge. The bills for police and emergency services, damage to vehicles and property, and lost output cost the country an estimated R12 billion per annum.
There has to be a way to reduce this tragic toll of death and suffering. Indeed, there is. And it only involves ten seconds of thought and action. “Ten seconds that can save your live” is a simple, direct message. The message is that four quick, simple, cost-free actions that take 10 seconds can give save a life. And those actions?
* Always put all children in a proper child seat or harness: In a 50 kilometre an hour crash, a four year old weighing 20 kilograms would hit the first solid object with a force of 400 kilograms. Using a properly fitted child seat or restraint can reduce fatal injuries by up to 75%. So check the child seat in your car. Is it securely fitted? Is it the right size? Are you using it? We know that the kids might complain for a while. But that’s better than the horrific alternative.
* Always place any loose items in the car boot. When a car comes to a sudden halt in an accident, a map book on the back shelf will hit car occupants with the force of a karate kick. A camera becomes a hand grenade, an umbrella a deadly missile. The family shopping can kill. Put them in the boot.
* Always adjust the seat and the head restraint. It is a head restraint not a head rest and it is there to prevent or reduce whiplash which is the most common form of injury in a car crash. Even at speeds as low as ten kilometres an hour there is real danger of serious injury.
* Always wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs. We repeat, always use the seat belts.
The AA emphasises that it is not just about wearing seat belts in the front of the car. Rear seat belts also save lives – and yet we estimate that, throughout South Africa, only about 65% of people use seat belts.
Seat belt use is essential on every journey, no matter how short or how slow – and it is vital for everyone in a car. It will save passengers – but it will also save drivers. An unrestrained passenger in a car involved in a collision can hit others with the force of a small elephant.