Friday, 1 November 2013

Keeping your children safe with seatbelts

Parents around the country are certainly no strangers to having screaming children in the back seat of the family car and driving with the kids on board can sometimes be a tiring experience. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UK’s first seat belt law which made it compulsory for those in the front seat of a car to belt up. Regulations came into effect for mandatory rear seatbelt wearing by children in 1989 and since then further legislation has been introduced to ensure children are properly protected whilst travelling in cars.

Apart from not wearing one at all, one of the biggest dangers to children is the incorrect use of seatbelts and child seats in cars. There are several common problems that affect a lot of parents and we have had a look at some of the most frequent, offering helpful solutions to ensure your family are kept safe and sound whilst you travel.
Common problems
  • The child seat is too loose
One of the most common issues drivers will make is to leave a child seat held too loosely by the seatbelt. Child seats need to be held in place securely otherwise they can be thrown forwards in an accident, potentially causing serious injury.
To avoid this problem make sure to check that the child seat you use is suitable for your particular car. Fit the seat correctly, make sure to pull seatbelts tight and secure to the seatbelt and the seat properly to prevent them from slipping.
  • The seatbelt won’t fit around the child seat
Seatbelt lengths differ between various car models. If you find that a seatbelt won’t fit around a child or baby seat it’s always worth trying the seat in other positions to see if there is a better fit. In some cases seats will feature an alternative belt route that allows you to secure the seat with a shorter seatbelt. Many modern cars also feature height adjustable seatbelts that can be lowered to facilitate the security of your seat.
  • My child keeps undoing their seatbelt
Some children will develop a habit of undoing their seatbelts. It can be extremely frustrating for parents and can lead to injuries when parents are unaware that their children aren’t secured in their seats. Whilst most children will eventually grow out of this behaviour there are things you can do to stop your child undoing their seat belt. Always tell a child why they need to wear a seatbelt, this way they know it is for their safety rather than to keep them under control. Don’t start a journey until your child has fastened their seatbelt correctly and is wearing it properly. If this is built into a routine it can emphasise the importance of the seatbelt over time.
 Alternatively you can tell a child that you can’t take them on the trip if they don’t wear their seatbelt for the whole journey. This can be effective on visits to their friends or places they are excited to visit. When a child undoes a belt during a journey pull over when it is safe to do so and repeat the fact that their belt must be done up whilst you are on the road. If boredom and restlessness are the issue then distraction and belt buckling games can also be incorporated into your journeys to help. With 30 years passing since the landmark seatbelt legislation came into effect, we have seen a vast improvement in attitudes towards road safety and the proper use of child seats and belts. If we are able to stress the importance of wearing a seatbelt to children at a young age, we will stand them in good stead for the future. By making sure children grow up aware of their importance we can prevent unnecessary injuries and encourage safer road use.
About the author: Michelle Arathoon works in the road traffic accident team at JMW Solicitors, who specialise in serious personal injury claims and regularly work on behalf of individuals injured as a result of serious road accidents. To find out more about the range of legal services they offer, visit www.jmw.co.uk today.




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