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Source: South Africa News Agency

Fastening children on seat belts remains the most effective method of reducing the risk of injury and fatality in road crashes, a gathering on the subject has heard.

During a webinar hosted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on Thursday, experts revealed that 1 017 children died on South African roads in the last year. The webinar, titled “Buckle Them Up”, was part of October Transport Month activities.

In attendance were motor industry, short term insurance, non-governmental and public sector representatives.

RTMC data analysis and reporting manager Magadi Gainewe said child deaths constituted 8% of the total number of road traffic fatalities in the country in 2019. She said the majority of children died when they collided with vehicles while walking in the streets and others were ejected when vehicles overturned.

KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape were responsible for 52% of child deaths on the roads.

Yolande Baker from Child Safe said for every child that died as a result of road crashes, 45 were injured.

“When South Africa losses 1 000 children a year; over 45 000 are hospitalized,” said Baker.

She said the severity of injuries varied, depending on age and whether a protective device was used. Child survivors of road crashes were often treated for head, neck, chest and abdominal injuries.

Children developed disabilities as a result of road crashes. These disabilities can retard children’s progress in early years depriving them of education and social development.

They can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, anxiety and flashbacks.

Experts agreed that child restraints and child seats were the most important method to prevent child injuries and fatalities in transport crashes.

Peggy Mars, from Wheels Well, pointed out that car seats were designed to keep children safe. She said car seats and restraints can reduce child deaths by 71% and injuries by 67% if properly used.

“The reason of fatality for children in frontal impacts is that they are not correctly restrained,” she said.

Mars said 32% of cases studied were unrestrained and 23% used an inappropriate and/or a misused restraint system. – SAnews.gov.za

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