Wednesday, 2 May 2012

"Clunk Click - Every Trip!"

How many of you remember this slogan, it was from a series of public information films, sponsored by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), commencing in January 1971 and starring Jimmy Savile?

No, I don't, in 1971 I wasn't born, I don't recall the films at all but the slogan, yes, I remember that. It was used by the RoSPA until 1993. What scares me when I look at the information for this, is that the UK only made it law for rear seated passengers to 'belt up' in 1991. (It became mandatory for children in 1989). 1991 -That was the year after one of my best friends was killed in a car accident, aged 13, she wasn't wearing hers, -she was breaking the law! To think about it now, frustrates me, annoys me and upsets me. Would she have survived if she had "Clunk Clicked"?
I know I can't dwell on the past, what happened, happened and the law changed to protect people like my friend, in the hope that it wouldn't happen again.....

So why now, as I write this, are there still parents out there who regularly put their children at risk.

The law now is black and white in certain areas. Children should be on a proper child seat until they are aged 11 or 135cm tall, which ever comes first. Beanie (8) has just reached that height but I have no intention of letting him sit in the car without a car seat. Why? Because it has been proved that children are safer on a booster seat and if he is safer, then he will sit on one. Simple!
The RoSPA state that.... 
"Seat belts are designed for people 150 cms (about 5ft) and taller. Don't let your child graduate to using the seat belt on its own too soon. Children are usually big enough to use the seat belt on its own by the time they are about 11 years old, although this varies from child to child."

If they say that children should only be using seatbelts on their own at 150cm or 11 years why does UK law state 135cm? Surely, that means that there are numerous children being transported in cars without booster seats, that are too small to be doing this. Why doesn't the law state 11 years old and 150cm, if they are short they have to stay in the booster until they reach the height. Surely we would all want what is safest for our children and not let them determine when they go unaided in the car! I know many children that use the car without the booster seat, the seat belt sits too high on their necks but because they are 135cm they are allowed to do it. Beanie won't be!

Another thing that really annoys me, and I see this regularly, when I am on gate duty at my school. The number of parents that allow their children to sit in the front of the car. Most modern cars are fitted with air bags, some, and I mean a few makes have the ability to turn the front passenger air bag off, - fine, but a lot of makes of car in this country do not have that facility. Yet people still allow their children to sit up front.

Again advice states that...

All children are safest in the rear of a vehicle, regardless of their age or size. It is recommended that children 12 and under should never sit in the front seat of a vehicle which is equipped with a passenger air bag.

An air bag that goes off could easily suffocate/fatally injure a child, whether they are in a car seat or not. We all know that you should never put a rear facing car seat in the front seat if there is an air bag fitted but it seems that as soon as children start sitting forward facing, they become old and big enough to sit up front. My children have never sat in the front seat of our cars, because they have air bags. I would never risk their lives even on a short journey, my boys are just too precious, and I struggle to understand how any parent would allow that risk. And yet people do, every day. I do wish the UK followed suite of other European countries, like France, where it is illegal for any child aged under 10 to sit in the front seat. Yes there are a few exceptions but in general no child under 10 should be sat in the front of a car. I see this as being beneficial, at least it would stop any arguments about who's turn it is and whether they can or not. Quite simply - "no you can't, it's illegal".
So I know I am ever so OTT about this and it would be interesting to see what others think. Do you let your children sit in the front of your car? Does it have an airbag?

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