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The place of kids in the car

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Are you fond of having your toddlers sit at the front seat of your car, or you carry them on your lap while driving since it is a short trip, or of course another carries your baby on the lap in the front seat while you drive?

These are habits that are gradually eating up into our society and becoming a part of us, it is important to understand the risks these children are exposed to while you think you may be having them by your side and giving all the comfort they may require.

Safety advocate and child protection expert, who is the Executive Director at Cece Yara Foundation, Grace Ketefe, said that it is ideal that children under age 13 should be properly restrained in the back seat. Seat-belts are designed for adults weighing over 40kg and not designed to fit children. Improper use of the seat belt by a child can cause injury or death in the event of a crash. Most children will not fit in a seat belt alone until they are 13 years of age.

She said that statistics according to the Centre for Control of Disease Prevention revealed that in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. In 2016, 723 children aged 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and more than 128,000 were injured.

“Parents and caregivers in Nigeria can make a life-saving difference by ensuring that children under age 13 ride properly buckled in the back seat on every trip. Kids may be as big as adults on the outside but their skeletal system is still developing.

“According to a study in Pediatric Child Health, children who are 12 years old or younger have iliac crests that are less developed than those of adults. (The iliac crest is the point part of the hipbone, which keeps the seat belt properly positioned on the hips.) This can allow the seat belt to ride up over the abdomen, causing seat belt syndrome.

Children’s breastbones, or sternum, are not fully developed yet either. While this may not fully develop until a few years later, waiting until at least 13 gives more time to get stronger. Without a mature skeletal system, a child is at increased risk of injury.

While a lot of parents are guilty of allowing their toddlers, and children use the front seat, or even driving with their toddlers on the steering, Ketefe said: “I have seen a lot of parents indulge their child while driving, some would allow them seat on their laps while driving. Children are seen kneeling or standing on the car seat. This is dangerous and any sudden halt or a vehicle ramming into the car may send the child crashing into the windshield. Parents should never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat.

“It is important to note that such acts are driving offences. The National Road Transport Regulation 2012, part XII 126(1) stipulates that every vehicle shall have fitted in the front and rear seat, seat-belt and child safety seat which shall be securely worn by the driver and other occupants of the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion. Violation of this regulation is punishable.”

The parenting enthusiast also stressed that violation of lawfully constituted authority is a negative habit that can be passed to children if continuously allowed to use the front seat, “it is important to inform the child in an age-appropriate manner that it is wrong for a child under the age of 13 to sit in the front seat. Always require safety belt use for all passengers and be a model of good behaviour when it comes to car safety.”

Ketefe added that the festive periods, both Muslim and the Christian, offer a chance for family and friends to celebrate. We implore everyone to commit to road safety, preventing needless loss of lives and property. This commitment should extend to every day of the year.”


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