Wow, 2020 has been rough, huh? We hope you’ve all been keeping yourselves safe during this difficult time. The coronavirus outbreak has affected livelihoods throughout the country, and the government clearly believes it has had a particularly significant impact on families. That’s because it has just announced that it would postpone the enforcement of its mandatory child safety seat ruling indefinitely.

Of course, it’s understandable that the authorities would want to keep citizens from being vulnerable to a ravaging pandemic and a steepening global recession, and that in itself is commendable. But this decision also exposes a faulty line of thought that is all-too-common in Malaysia – that the lives of our own children play second fiddle to our wealth.

Time and time again, our officials give the excuse that low-income families cannot afford to buy child seats, but let’s be real – talk of a child seat law has been in the public consciousness since at least 2015, so we’ve had five years to get ready for this eventuality. Postponing the enforcement of this vital ruling doesn’t solve anything regarding the economics, it just kicks the can further and further down the road.

(Also, the failure to use child seats is just as prevalent in middle- and upper-income families as it is in poorer families, so it’s evidently a moral issue rather than a financial one.)

So yes, it’s disappointing, but it’s a move we’ll have to accept. But that doesn’t mean that we can simply let our guard down, and drive around with our kids free to roam about in the car. Because – at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious – an accident doesn’t wait for a pandemic to be over, or for a child seat rule to be enforced, to take the life of your child.

We’ve warned multiple times about dangers of leaving a child unsecured in a moving vehicle, so much so that they really don’t need to be repeated – but here they are anyway. The forces involved in even a moderate accident are severe enough to throw a kid straight into the seat in front of them, the dashboard or even out the windscreen. And yes, that’s even if you’re holding onto them as tight as humanly possible. We don’t need to remind you that this poses a very real risk of your child being severely injured or killed.

These are exactly the circumstances that a child safety seat will prevent, with the specially-designed seat and harness working together to keep the child secure. Crucially, this protects them from any hard surfaces, the outside of the vehicle and, if you place the seat in the recommended position at the rear, a potentially life-threatening impact from an airbag.

So the benefits of using a child seat are obvious. But we knew that already. The question is, why do we need a law to force us to protect our own children? We don’t have a law telling you to prop your baby’s head up, to hold their hand when crossing the road, or to make them wear shoes outside, but you’d do them anyway. Why? Because it’s for their safety – and it’s also just plain common sense.

 

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Posted by Richardt Piek on Sunday, 14 December 2014

And we’ve said this time and time again – child seats do not have to break the bank. Just from quickly browsing through Lazada, we could find proper, ECE R44/04-certified seats for well under RM200, and while ISOFIX versions were a little more expensive, they were still fairly affordable.

Remember, an ISOFIX mount simply makes installation easier – a child seat is just as safe in a crash when installed with a seat belt, just as long as you follow the instructions correctly. Nobody is forcing you to buy an expensive, Recaro-branded ISOFIX seat when a cheaper unit does the same job just as well.

And while now might not seem like a good time to spend money, the government’s six-month moratorium on car loan instalments means that this is actually the perfect time to invest in a child seat. At the very least, it’s better than wasting your money on bodykits and bigger wheels, which are nowhere near as important.

So parents, please, please use a child safety seat in your car. Fine or no fine, you’d want only the best for your child, and a proper child seat is the only way to guarantee their safety while you’re driving.