Currently, India lacks a rule mandating family to have a child car seat. Even after being aware of the fact that road safety in India is among the worst in the world. The leading causes of such fatalities are speed driving; driving under any alcoholic influence and not using helmets/seatbelts. Unfortunately, there isn’t any such law on protection for children or mandating Car Seat in India, yet. It’s totally a parent’s personal choice whether to buy a car seat or not.
What can we do next?
It is one of the important questions to deliberate here. While we know, accidents do happen and will keep on happening in this fast-moving world, how can we improve safety? There must be a step by step approach and even the most civilised nations follow a basic, three-point framework while addressing any such issue of public safety:
- Introduce laws, rules and regulations.
- Create awareness in the general public.
- And Implement these laws firmly by the concerned authorities.
1. We need rules
In the last couple of years, more than 1.2 million people in India have died in road accidents. While we all know that children are particularly the vulnerable ones in such accidents. We fail to take any corrective measures.
Data from developed nations reveals that proper car seat and restraints can reduce the risk of injury and death in children. This risk can be reduced as much as 71% for newborns or infants and around 55% for young toddlers, between one and four years of age. These numbers clearly indicate that car seats should be made mandatory everywhere, including India.
Also, I have heard some Real stories from family and friends who are settled in some developed countries. The stories about how the hospital staffs who refuse to hand over the baby to the parents unless they have a car seat to drive the baby safely. Or how it is mandatory to ride kids upto certain age or height in a car seat only. While in India, most of our Indian families would happily drive holding on to their young babies in their arms or making them sit on their lap, during the rides.
2. Creating Awareness
That brings me to another point here. Even in the absence of such a law in India- Are people aware or educated about the need for a car seat? Even the privileged ones, seems to be unaware of the risks of having kids on board without a proper seating gear.
How can we bring about awareness?
It is important to empower all the touch points, starting from a car dealer to hospitals, from play schools to daycares and traffic personnel to build awareness. As a parent, if we understand the importance of car seat, we should pass it on with friends and family. As we can still see people smiling, laughing and joking about using a car seat in India.
Along with it, finding a quality car seat is important. We need to understand the types of a car seat to find the one that would be best suited for your child. As the car seat selection should be done depending upon the child’s age, height and weight. At times, it also depends on the model of the vehicle owned by you. There can be certain brands or models of the car seat which may or may not fit your vehicle properly giving the right safety.
3. Smooth Implementation
Then comes the third point – enforcing the laws or the rules. Enforcement is tricky in India because here rules are made to be broken. Many people have this thinking that they can get away with anything by bribing dishonest officials. Or they may find some temporary easy go away with some cheap car seats which may not perform when in need. We need to understand that just like a Seatbelt is important for us, a Car seat is important for young kids.
Frankly, I too was unaware of the risks and potential protection from a car seat, until I saw one. After a lot of diligence, we got a car seat from Britax Roemer, its a luxury German car and bike seat brand which is now available in India. We have the model EVOLVA 1-2-3 SL SICT which is suitable for children from 9 kg to 36 kg or 9 months to 12 years of age. It can be easily installed in most cars – with ISOFIX and a 3-point seatbelt, or the 3-point seat belt alone.
How did we shift to a Car Seat?
Tuggu was around one-and-half-year-old when he first sat in this car seat. And since we had never buckled him, it was a task to get him used to the seat. There were a lot of tears along with the expected- No’s and Why’s. But we kept ourselves strong since we were aware of all possible risk. We talked to him, explained to him and after a lot of convincing he is now finally used to it. Since then I always talk about safety for our kids with our friends and family and try to pass on whatever little knowledge I have gained so far.
I believe it’s easy to make young babies sit in a seat. Also, they get a hang of it while they grow up. But in our case, we started when Tuggu was in a big enough to ‘ask Why’s and say No”. All of this made it so difficult to make him adapt to sitting in a car seat. But we ensured we stay strong and make him sit.
Stay tuned for my next post to know some tips on how we helped him to love his new car seat and how to select the right car seat for your little one.