Update from SADD
SADD has been involved in a seatbelt project funded by the Road Safety Fund in the UK. SADD has done research to show the seat belt wearing from six SAPS stations and the Department of Transport headquarters in Pietermaritzburg, but have not released these results as SADD is trying to work with them to ensure they buckle up and enforce buckling up in Pietermaritzburg. The seatbelt project also involves surveying the number of seat belt wearers at a range of local schools-independent, government and former Model C schools, then giving a talk to the learners about the importance of wearing a seatbelt and finally measuring the change in seatbelt wearing at the school after the talk. Each school is given posters, seat belt manuals and DVD's to encourage them to continue the road safety work.
These pre-talk results revealed the shocking number of children who are not buckled up. Overall, 93% of children sitting in the back were not wearing seatbelts. Only 26% of children sitting in the front seat were wearing seatbelts. The consequences for a child, who is not strapped in, in a crash, are significant. In a car going 100km/h, a backseat passenger without a seatbelt would probably die from being thrown through the windscreen. Some assume that frontseat passengers would be protected by an airbag but the airbag inflates at 200 km/h and a child, or any frontseat passenger, would risk fatal injury in a crash by slamming into the airbag, if they are not buckled up.
A difference was noted between schools with 36% of former Model C school children wearing a seatbelt, 53% of independent school children wearing a seatbelt and a dramatic drop in seatbelt wearing in children attending government schools. Caro Smit said that it is the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers are wearing a seatbelt and that they could be fined, per person not buckled up, if stopped.
SADD also noted that many children were using adult seatbelts which are designed for adults and actually increase the risk of injury in a crash because they cut across the child's neck. This prompted the organisation to ask for donations of old car seats to distribute to families. A large number of car seats have been generously donated by members of the public, local businesses and Wheel Well (http://www.wheelwell.co.za/). These are then given to families at schools surveyed. The recipients are asked to sign a pledge asking that they ensure the car seat is used to protect their child, to ensure all car occupants are buckled up, to encourage others to buckle up and to give the car seat to another worthy family when their child outgrows the car seat.
SADD has also erected signs at schools to promote seat belt wearing. The post surveys are about to start to see the results of the talks at schools.
A full report on the pre-talk survey results in available on the website of the local newspaper, the Witness. You can read the online article by clicking this link.
How can you help?
Donate to SADD and help us in our work in education on road safety, awareness and support.
SADD will be starting with the post survey. You can keep up to date with the results by visiting our website.