It is compulsory for cars and small lorries to have seat belts if you are driving in Malaysia. The wearing of rear seat belt was recently introduced here in March 2010. The seat belt or more popularly known as the “safety belt”, was said to have been first introduced in America by Ford motors corporation.

In most write ups on motoring, unfortunately the topic regarding seat belt are normally not accorded prominence. However, in a recent article prepared for motorists in conjunction with the forth coming festive season for Hari Raya celebrations, a leading car manufacturer has prepared a very informative article with regards to seat belts for young passengers.

I happened to come across the above article and feels it should be highlighted for the benefit of all other readers who might have missed reading it.

Seat belts or safety belts are important. Seat belts may simply be a piece of cloth. But in reality, it saves millions of lives. In Malaysia, under the Road Transport Ordinance 1987, via Circular K.4 MV(SSB) 78 (P.U.A 378/78), a person not wearing a seat belt can be fined by the courts a sum of RM100.

While many countries clearly stipulate that a child below the age of 12 years is not allowed to sit in the front seat, in Malaysia, there is no such ruling to determine where a young child should be seated. Nevertheless, as children’s safety are important considerations to most parents, these things should in fact be given serious considerations by parents to children travelling in cars.

Below are a few important and useful tips which parents can opt to adopt. Hopefully they can ensure a safe and trouble free for all of us.

In earlier articles elsewhere in this blog, I have time and again stressed that it is impertinent to inspect what is behind and also beside the vehicle prior to reversing. Incidents have been reported of parents knocking into their own children while reversing. Family members and loved ones, eager to send off a child, have often become victims of such accidents.

No child should ever be allowed to travel in the front seat. This is because, there has been reports of “air bags”, which is a modern contraption of most cars nowadays, have been reported to have caused injuries to small children during accidents.

Children below the age of 12 and especially small babies, should only travel in a car strapped up in special toddler seats specially meant for them. In Malaysia, it looks as if local laws are silent on how to transport young children. As such, parents should therefore follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as closely as possible.

The article to which I am referring to, suggests that the correct type and size of seat for children should be chosen. First of all, there is available what is known as “Infant Seats”, suitable for babies from birth up to 10kg. Secondly, there is the “Convertible Safety Seats” for babies weighing 10kg to 18kg. Thirdly, there is also available what’s called “Booster Seats” for children or babies weighing 18kg to 27kg. And finally, there are also special “safety seat” belts for slightly bigger babies.

Besides the types of safety seats for the young children already mentioned, the safety of our young siblings does not depend solely upon these seats alone. There are certain things and precautions parents should take into consideration as well. Amongst them, are:-

1. Make sure that a child safety seat that is need is properly buckled down and secured before driving off.

2. All heavy items should ideally be secured in “cargo nets” or “straps” to prevent them from flying around should an accident happen.

3. Children should never be left unattended in the car, particularly in the hot, Malaysian sun. It is very dangerous. Babies can easily be killed in the extreme heat. Or worst of all, babies could very well be abducted by car jackers.

Likewise, small children can very well accidentally release hand brakes, or they could get out of the cars and run the risk of getting run over by another vehicle on the road.

4. It is important to ensure children are not allowed to put out their heads/hands out of the windows while the vehicle is moving.

5. Make sure vehicles ideally have driver controlled windows and door locks so that children cannot open them while the vehicle is moving.

6. Lock all doors when vehicles are moving.

7. Do not have balloons, small toys or food which could cause chocking in the car.

8. Dangerous objects and sharp items should ideally be kept away from children’s reach.

9. Electric lighters should also be removed.

10. Finally, a car should be equipped with emergency triangles, a flashlight, a medical first aid box and a fire extinguisher as well.

With the above suggestions given, it is hoped that the safety of our children can be ensured as they travel along with their parents in their journey back home this festive season.