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Are we vigilant enough of road safety for children? Do you even have a child seat in your car? It’s high time you do.
When my daughter started school, we decided to buy a Bolster (a toddler’s car seat) which I felt necessary for her safety as I would be the one in the driver’s seat.
This made me reflect on the fatal accident that happened recently involving actor and politician Hema Malini where a 2-year-old died, being thrown out of the car. While much has been written, said and criticized about the unfortunate event, a very important point is being lost amidst the din.
It’s a simple fact that in this fast moving age, accidents do happen. But, we can’t just sit back to witness and curse the tragedies. Most civilized nations follow a basic, three-point rule in addressing the issue of public safety:
Being a densely populated country we are mired with a lot of problems including complicated and contradicting laws. But it is never too late to fix anything. We should take lessons from such accidents. One of them can be, why don’t we follow any rule that mandates families to have a child seat in cars for kids? People argue that in India speed limit is less and also there is much slow moving traffic, hence no need for special baby gear in vehicles but I disagree.
In the last decade or so, more than 1.2 million people in India have died in road accidents.
In the last decade or so, more than 1.2 million people in India have died in road accidents. In fact, India’s road safety is amongst the worst in the world. Leading causes of fatalities being, driving over the speed limit, driving under the influence of alcohol and not using helmets and seatbelts. Children are particularly vulnerable to injury, but as data from the US reveals that proper seats and restraints can reduce the risk of injury and death for children by 71% for kids under one year of age and by 54% for toddlers between one and four years. This is a clear indication to me that car seats for children should be mandatory everywhere, including India. Yet there is no such law, and it remains up to the parents whether to buy one or not.
That means having a compulsory car seat for our kids is a dire need of our time. I asked many people, but nobody is sure if we have any such law!
That brings me to the second point. If we have such laws, then are people educated about them and sensitized enough on the importance of abiding by them? Even privileged Indians seem unaware of the hazards of having kids on board without proper seating gear. Nor will you ever be held by a traffic cop telling you to strap your baby into a proper seat. My girl was born in the biggest hospital of Bangalore and nobody was bothered about how we were taking her in our car. In many developed countries, the hospital staff refuses to hand over a baby to the parents unless they have this important safety feature in their car. Back here, few of my friends have a car seat for their kids. We all behave as if nothing bad can happen to us when the fact of life is we have no control over it.
Indian manufacturers should be given incentives to produce safe and affordable car seats for kids.
How can we bring about the awareness? Indian manufacturers should be given incentives to produce safe and affordable car seats for kids. Car dealers, maternity homes, schools, traffic personnel, and all such institutions should keep enforcing this on parents. If the public can be charged toll taxes without any exception, why can’t they be conditioned to follow important safety practices?
Here comes the third point of firm enforcement of such laws. We Indians, in general, have a mentality that we can get away with anything by offering bribes to dishonest officials. But can’t we see now that ill effects of corruption leaves nobody. Not even people in power. Everyone can have an accident, even the powerful and the famous like Hema Malini too. That’s why it has become absolutely necessary to tackle corruption now. If each department decides to cleanse themselves from such misconducts, change can no longer be a dream.
I request our government, to take lessons from these mishaps that happen often and enforce the use of car seats for kids in India. Also educating people about the rules and making sure that it is followed can make our roads much safer for children. I also ask parents to be aware and alert of child’s safety and also, educate your near and dear ones of the dangers of not following road safety rules. Better be safe than sorry!
First published here
Cover image via Shutterstock
Roohi Bhatnagar is an artist of words, colors and likes to brew & spread happiness with
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