The number of infants I have come across in potentially dangerous positions in moving cars on Lagos roads is quite alarming. Even worse is the fact that the adults/ caregivers who should know better are totally oblivious to the danger they have placed their loved ones.
Feeling helpless, it is impossible to provide caution to passengers in a moving vehicle. Hopefully, we can all increase awareness on this subject to ensure that our little men and women who we all love so dearly are kept safe at all times.
Here are some tips to address some of the potential dangers I have spotted in moving vehicles on Lagos roads:
• No kids sitting on your lap while you occupy the driver’s seat. I know you want to take that cute selfie of you and your little one and post on facebook, BB, instagram, but if you must do so, ensure the vehicle is motionless and off the road
• Resist the temptation to allow you kids stand up at the back seat of the car because they want to have a view of the road/ your face/ be your gist companion while you drive. Strap them into their car seats and keep them entertained. Invest in an ipad, kiddies tablets or book – whichever matches your pocket.
• Car seats: People, it appears there’s no escaping doing some good research and reading the manual on this one. Weight and height of your infants/ kids need to be considered before taking a decision on the appropriate car seat to purchase. It is advised that you do not place car seats in the front passenger seat. If you must, airbags need to be de-activated. The UK Government even advises that kids should use a child car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall.
• Following from the above, any child under the age of 12 should ride properly buckled in the back seat and should not be allowed to occupy the front passengers’ seat. This also applies to kids being carried by adults in the front seat, this is also a very dangerous act.
• Ensure children (hands, feet, face, etc) are clear of doors before shutting them. I have observed this incident on a couple of occasions even from the time I was a kid myself.
• Always double check to ensure your kids are not locked in the car before you step away.
Research reveals an alarming rate of kids suffer fatal accidents from car related dangers. Here are some types of accidents which have been recorded by KidsAndCars.org (KAC) – a nonprofit child safety organization in the United States of America dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles. Unfortunately we don’t have a track on similar incidents in Nigeria:
“Backovers: typically takes place when a car is backing out of a driveway or parking space. In the US, at least fifty children are being backed over by vehicles EVERY week and at least two are fatally injured. Tragically, in over 70% of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.
Frontovers: Every year, thousands of children are hurt or die because a driver moving forward very slowly didn’t see them. These incidents for the most part take place in residential driveways or parking lots
Heatstroke: In the US, on average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death.
Power windows: Power windows in vehicles have killed or injured thousands of children. It takes just 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant while power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds of force.
Trunk/ Boot Entrapment: Internal trunk release mechanisms are now required in all vehicles with trunks. There has not been one fatality in the trunk of a vehicle with this glow-in-dark release!
Vehicles set in Motion: Stories about kids and cars have a tendency to end badly. Each year hundreds of children are hospitalized or even killed after accidentally setting a car into motion.”
Do spread awareness on these dangers to all around you and share any additional tips you have, you may just be saving one or even multiple lives. I am also hopeful that the relevant authorities would do more in the coming months and years in the area of creating regulations, sensitizing the public on proper road use/ safety and generally making our roads less accident prone.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Photographerlondon