According to one study of driver’s opinions by the Institute of Road Safety at the MAPFRE FOUNDATION, Spanish drivers considering a new car attach as much importance to the safety features as to the make; this is only exceeded by price and size of vehicle. This study also concluded that drivers were prepared to pay a significantly higher price for improved safety features. Nothing less than 27% would pay between 500 and 1000 more and 25% would be prepared to pay between 1000 and 1500 more. 78% of those interviewed think that the government should make the principal safety features obligatory
This alarming change in consumer habits is reflected in a shift towards a growing concern with anything to do with vehicle safety. The reasons justifying this greater demand for safety may be blamed on an aging population pyramid: older people are frailer and so have a longer response time in dangerous situations whilst driving.
Driving with increased safety is not all down to the vehicle: in the case of parents driving children, an adequate restraining system is crucial. As in the case of cars, not all child seats offer the same level of protection so Price should not be the overriding factor when choosing a child seat.
It is also very concerning that so many children travel without a suitable approved system of child restraint in either cars or vans. It is a serious offence carrying a fine of 300€ and 3 points on you license. We mustn’t forget the responsibility of those that use the child safety systems incorrectly. According to a European study incorrect use varies between 15% and 80% with the resultant risk of serious injury to minors that goes with it.
In Spain, the regulations oblige all children under 12 years of age travel with system of child retention suitable for their age and height: child seats certified according the European norm. UNECE R44/04 or UNECE R129 for those under 135cm and using a seatbelt for those taller. At the move from a child seat to an adult seatbelt it is extremely important that the seatbelt is correctly adjusted. In a child seat there must be no gaps between the body of the child and the seat to ensure a snug fit and the seat must be unable to move more than 2-3 cms in either direction. Children using a seat belt (either with a booster seat or cushion for those over 12 years of age or taller than 135cms using the car seat with the seatbelt) the upper strap must sit above the sternum then the across the middle of the collarbone while the lower strap must rest over the hips. Don’t forget, if the straps of the seatbelt don’t reach these points a booster seat must be employed. A strap close to the neck or over the abdomen presents an unacceptable risk as in an accident the pressure exerted by the belt can cause serious internal injury to a child.
The passive or active safety systems in a vehicle are there to protect us in an accident. Our responsibility as parent goes even further. It implies respect for the rules of road safety, always drive sensibly and ensuring that nothing puts our children’s safety at risk.