Childsafe, and the management of Red Cross Children's Hospital, today launched their "Buckle-up or you'll be back!" campaign in an effort to raise awareness as to the dangers of not buckling-up when driving, particularly when driving with children in the vehicle.
Road crashes claim the highest mortality in the age group 1-18 years worldwide. In South Africa, 250 children are killed on the road each year because someone didn't buckle them up. More than twice as many die as pedestrians.
"Children are amongst the most vulnerable on our roads, both as passengers and pedestrians. Through our Safely Home initiative, we will be gearing up our enforcement and educational efforts during the upcoming festive season to reduce the carnage on our roads. Last year, 139 lives were lost on the provinces roads during the festive season, with pedestrians and passengers making up the bulk of that number," said Minister Robin Carlisle.
Since 2008, till the end of 2011, passenger and pedestrian fatalities have decreased by 18% and 27% respectively. Passenger fatalities have gone down from 415 in 2008, to 339 in 2011. Pedestrian fatalities have gone down from 843 in 2008 to 619 in 2011. Passengers and pedestrians still occupy the largest percentage of the total fatalities in the province, and a high number of those, are children.
"Appropriate restraints are a crucial element in child road safety. The national statistics in terms of restraints, particularly for children, are shocking. In 2010, it was observed that 92% of back-seat passengers (including children) are not wearing seat-belts.
The province is looking into:
Child restraints regulations that would ban shared seating and mandate the use of seatbelts, rear and forward facing child seats, and booster seats, as appropriate to age. Harsh penalties for non-compliance would be applied.
The introducing an additional offence for reckless behaviour with children in the vehicle, such as speeding, drunk driving or cellphone use. The penalties for this offence would increase exponentially should the child not be correctly restrained.
Banning overtaking of stopped school buses and scholar transport vehicles, which will concurrently be marked with additional chevrons and a stop sign.
"Children bear much of the brunt of the slaughter on the roads, with hundreds killed senselessly per annum, and legislation can play a strong role in protecting them. The only way in which we can prioritise children and create a culture of buckling-up is through partnerships between government and organisations like ChildSafe, which manifest in initiatives such as these ones. These partnerships should strive to encourage responsible behaviour by creating a personal virtuousness amongst people, where they can feel proud in making the decision to act responsibly," added Carlisle.