In Wallonia, only one in four children is properly belted into a correctly adapted car seat for his or her weight and size, according to a recent study by the Vias Institute. So as to help parents transport their children entirely safely, the Walloon Agency for Road Safety (the “AWSR”) is launching a new awareness-raising campaign on Wednesday.
The relevant study flags up that although half of children (49%) are in a seat appropriate for their weight and size, only a quarter of them are properly strapped in. One in ten children are not wearing seat belts at all.
The shoulder harness straps within a baby seat can thus be incorrectly secured, the seat is sometimes positioned in the wrong direction and the front airbag is not always deactivated. For older children it is often a question of a badly positioned seat belt. In the event of hard braking or collision, a seat belt passing under the arms, pressing into the back or passing above the booster seat armrests can however cause serious abdominal injuries, whiplash injuries, as well as other specific injuries.
The risk of not being properly strapped in increases during short (distances of less than 10 kilometres) and regular journeys. The AWSR states that at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour, a child who is not properly fastened in with a weight 15 kilograms has, upon becoming a projected mass, a weight of 120 kilograms.
The lack of attention and time, the difficulty of fastening in an agitated toddler, and even insufficient information on how to adequately fix the car seat into the car and place the child in the appropriate position, are the main reasons put forward by parents explaining this observation. So as to raise adult awareness of how to place very young children properly in position, the AWSR will place signs along motorways and secondary roads in Wallonia, illustrating the need to tailor the particular restraint system to your child. The campaign will last throughout the whole of January.
The law provides for a fine of €174 in respect of minors less than 1.35 metres tall who are not properly strapped in.