A Word On Child Safety When Travelling In A Car

I recently encountered a very sad situation where a family was involved in a high-speed motor vehicle accident. Out of this sad event, I saw a very vital lesson we need all need to be reminded of: Child safety when travelling in a car. My aim of this article would be to remind everyone, to please ensure that you have placed your child in an appropriate car seat according to the National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles.

The family who was in the car, which crashed at 80 km/h, included the father who was the driver, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. The father ended up in intensive care with extensive injuries and requiring respiratory support. The girl suffered bilateral ankle fractures, and the boy ended in intensive care with a high level spinal cord injury, multiple fractured ribs, a punctured lung and crushed spinal fractures. My first thoughts when I was called to treat the little boy in intensive care, was how can a child suffer such horrific injuries while in a car seat? The simple answer is : he wasn’t in a car seat.

I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to always place your children in car seats as per the National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles. These Guidelines have been developed by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe – The Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. The National Guidelines provide best practice recommendations that have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

In the course of my work, I often see the end result of children who unfortunately suffer the consequences of their parents’ mistakes in not placing them in an appropriate car seat for their age and size. As parents we all want the best for our children, and I appreciate the hectic pace of life when we perhaps in the midst of our rushing about, think “Its only a short way down the road to the shops, I don’t have time, it doesn’t matter if the children are not in their car seat.” But I want to say to you, “It does matter! And the difference is suffering a few bruises and slight whiplash compared to a lifetime of paralysis and being in a wheelchair!” So please stop and take the few extra minutes to strap them in safely.

I personally ensure that my children’s car seats are installed professionally by a restraint fitting service, because I know they cantighten down a car seat more firmly than I can! There is no point in buying an expensive car seat, if its not secured correctly. Every time my car mechanic decides to remove my car seats for whatever reasons, I head back to the restraint fitting service to get my car seats fitted again. It is a small cost to pay to ensure my children’s safety. I am also reminded from my encounter with this family, an important truth – Don’t speed! Better late than never!

So today, take time to read through the National Guidelines at http://www.neura.edu.au/sites/neura.edu.au/files/page-downloads/Child%20restraint%20guidelines%20brochure.pdf

If you have any questions or concerns about child seats or child safety when travelling in a motor vehicle, especially for a child with special needs, please contact our Paediatric Physiotherapist on 9557 8521 for an appointment today.