Matrix knows that there are many things to remember when packing the car and it’s often tempting to pack the kitchen sink just in case of emergency. While filling the car with luggage, toys, eats and drinks, please don’t forget to pack what’s most important – the car seat or booster seat, to protect what matters most – in case of a real emergency.

Every December, safety tips and warnings to buckle up over the festive season flood all mass media with facts from Government, victims of road accidents and NGO’s across the country.  Year on year accident statistics are released and each year an average of 14 000 road users do not end their journey safely. 

The journey over the festive period allows for some quality time to relax and enjoy a well-deserved break, so don’t be silly this season. Getting there with no regrets and returning not only in the same condition as when you left, but possibly better than ever and ready to tackle the new year – that’s what it’s actually all about.

While the statistics are real and the graphic warnings in the media serve to arm road users with important tips for safe travel, it’s really quite simple; buckle up, ensure the kids are safely strapped into the right seat and travel cautiously. What’s your excuse?

Remember, seat belts are designed for adults and an adult, by definition, is a person taller than 1.5 metres, so if your children don’t meet the height requirement for the ride, ensure they are strapped into a car seat or a booster seat. Take a look at this infographic for more information. Lead by example and always strap yourself in to teach your children the right way to travel.

While we’re talking safety, did you know that airbags in vehicles can harm children? Airbags are designed to ensure an adult, wearing a seatbelt, remains in the correct seating position in the event of an accident. Should this accident happen, the force of a deployed airbag can severely harm and possibly fatally injure a child; ensure the airbags in the back of the vehicle are deactivated to prevent these injuries; adults ride up front and kids in the back.

Your pre-trip inspection is not limited to vehicle checks alone, before you set off check that your cars seats are installed as per the manual and tick off the following:

  • Seat is correctly assembled
  • Seat is correctly adjusted to fit the child
  • Shoulder straps are at shoulder height and not twisted
  • Harness is sufficiently tightened (enough space to fit your hand between the child’s tummy and the buckle of the seatbelt)

Snug as bug! If space is a problem, take a moment to think of the value a car seat adds and the value an extra pair of jeans will afford, think again and eliminate some luggage to travel with the peace of mind that your loved ones are adequately protected for the journey. Remember to secure any toys or loose items in the vehicle; these could be hazardous in the event of a collision. Tidy up, buckle up and we’re off!

Peggy Mars, head of the Car Seats for Kid’s campaign, a Wheel Well initiative says it best; “All drivers and passengers must adhere to the rules of the road, they are there to keep us alive. Where our children are concerned – we must go a step beyond and instead of just driving legally; we must drive lovingly. This is the season of loving, giving and togetherness. Let us not ruin that with haste and undue speed.”