Sunday 4 December 2016

One-third of children not strapped in by parents

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 04/03/2011 | 05:00

The law now states that all children should be securely restrained when travelling in cars. Photo: Thinkstockphotos.com
The law now states that all children should be securely restrained when travelling in cars. Photo: Thinkstockphotos.com

Parents are still putting the lives of their children at risk by failing to put safety belts on them in cars. A new study has revealed that nearly one-in-three children are travelling without any safety restraints.

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And the problem got worse, not better, when parents were given information and instruction on the need for restraints.

A report on the study -- conducted by doctors in the paediatric department of Sligo General Hospital -- described the attitude of some parents towards the safety of their children as "appalling".

In the study of 394 children from 186 families included in the study, a total of 279 children -- 70.8pc -- were placed in restraints, but almost one-third of the children in the study (29.2pc) had no protection.

The drivers were contacted again after two months and asked about compliance.

But findings showed that the numbers travelling without restraint increased to 35.3pc on follow-up.

The authors of a report into the study said: "The results of this survey are worrying. The figures are based on the honest response of parents.

"The overall approach is haphazard and careless."

The study pointed out that car collisions are a major cause of childhood deaths.

"In a car accident at 50kph an unrestrained child would be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight," it said.

"Appropriate child restraints secure the child to their seat, preventing them from being thrown around the vehicle and, in the event of a crash, force is distributed over a larger body area, thus reducing the risk of severe injury."

They said a previous Irish study researching child car passenger fatalities in the period of 1996 to 2000 revealed that 77pc of child fatalities were found to not have been using a child restraint, or seatbelt.

Haphazard

In the latest study, data was collected for two months and involved parents or guardians of children from infants to 14-year-olds being approached, the 'Irish Medical Journal' reported.

This study concluded that "once-off parental education made negligible difference to an already inconsistent and haphazard approach to compliance with safety regulations".

The authors pointed out that the law now states that all children should be securely restrained when travelling in cars, and guidelines are available for parents to inform them of the appropriate equipment required.

Education of both parents and children, alongside a subsidy on restraints, has been shown to improve compliance, along with strict enforcement.

Irish Independent

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