Volkswagen had been advocating Child Passenger Safety for sometime now and I too talked about how important it is to buckle up our kids while travelling in the car recently. I am so glad to see that an auto car maker is actively involved in attempting to change the law of the country and creating awareness amongst Malaysians about this very important issue together with Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) which had been trying since 2011.
Earlier this month, the media gathered at the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia (ARCPM) or Persatuan Pengasuh Berdaftar Malaysia (PPBM), whom Volkswagen is partnering with to roll out a child passenger safety (CPS) training module across 280 childcare centres throughout Malaysia. Through this training, more childcare centres will be made aware of the importance of child safety in cars and in turn can educate parents that bring their children to their centres. Miss May Hwong, CPS Consultant of PPBM was the CPS trainer for the Child Passenger Safety Media Workshop and she was very informative and we learned so much from her about the different types of seats to suit different ages and even how to install the seats properly and how to buckle up the correct way to minimize injuries.
The truth is, many people might have carseats and think that their kids are safe, but they might not use the correct one or they might have installed it wrongly. For example, it is very dangerous to use a rear facing seat in the front seat of the vehicle that have airbags, as in case of accidents, the airbag’s force would be so strong that it would slam into the carseat and cause even more serious injuries. Also, rear facing should be used for as long as possible, and kids are actually comfortable in this position even if their legs are so long already, the advisable age is at least 15 months. The reason is when in a collision, rear facing kids suffer less injuries to their heads and neck, in a front facing seat, the neck will suffer as the head will be thrown forward and backwards. (Watch the below videos for a better visualisation).
Puan Sharifah Salmah Syed Harun, Director of Human Resource, Volkswagen Malaysia shared, “Many parents thought the safest way to carry a baby is in their arms and it is not unusual to see toddlers riding on adults’ lap. We believe it is of utmost importance to educate people about the seriousness of this issue. Our goal is to change mind-sets and help parents take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their children in cars.”
Have you ever seen a father driving with the child standing on his lap in front of his steering wheel? After this workshop, I actually saw this incident twice on the highway and I just could not imagine how a person can drive safely at all while doing that, it is not only a danger to his child, but a danger to every other driver on the road.
In Malaysia alone, more than 400,000 road accidents were recorded in 2012 and children are not spared from this shocking figure. According to the 2011 MIROS Report, children are the first and the second leading groups of casualties with aged 1–4 years old at 43.8% and 5–9 years old at 30.2% respectively.
“We strongly believe that this training module will inspire, mobilise and strengthen prevention measures and engage childcare centres as agents of change in their respective communities. This training will also empower and facilitate the childcare centre personnel’s role in creating safety consciousness and uphold child protection,” Sharifah added.
We also learned about this weird device that pretends to be useful as a carseat, I actually saw this in the china shop below my office recently. It is very tempting to cheat myself that this works because it is light and portable, but the truth is, it doesn’t work! I saw the video of this being tested by Miros, and in a light crash the whole contraption just tear apart from the Car’s seat, and throws the child out the windscreen, very very dangerous! I wish they would ban this being sold as it is also selling hotly online.
Another mindset that we as bloggers and media have to change is how children in cars are portrayed on adverts whether in newspapers, signboards or on tv etc. Most of the time, the children in the adverts are never restrained, or just wearing normal seatbelts and seated in the front. There are many ads showing the children waving with half their bodies outside a moving car. With misinformed ads like these, the public will find it hard to learn the importance of using child restraints!
Here are just five ways using Carseats can help to prevent injuries. I have heard some people say that it’s ok, when accidents happen they will happen it’s not in anybody’s fault. Yes, you can’t prevent the accident, but you can prevent the injury.
The media and celebs present also joined in on some hands on activity to learn how to install carseats properly and to make sure the straps are tight enough and not loose. Sharifah Sofia was testing out the seat while strapping her very adorable daughter in. I know many parents who claim that they can’t use carseats because their child would cry so terribly everytime. Well, from this workshop, I learned that when you keep strapping your child in the carseat, they just get used to it. All the celebrity kids looked so calm and comfy in their carseats, that is because their parents had taught them to sit in their carseats from birth.
The advocates of Child Passenger Safety, from left : Sheahnee Iman Lee, Founder of Child Restraint Action Group, Datin Wong Poai Hong, President of Persatuan Pengasuh Berdaftar Malaysia (PPBM), Puan Sharifah Salmah Syed Harun, Human Resources Director of Volkswagen Malaysia, and Sharifah Sofia, celebrity mum.
Through this campaign, the CPS trainers from PPBM’s network will train other operators of childcare centres to educate approximately 28,000 parents on the importance of using proper child car seats to curb injuries and losses.
Aside from the roll out of the CPS training module, Volkswagen Malaysia will also donate 200 Volkswagen child safety seats and 10,000 copies of the A-Z of road safety flash cards to PPBM to further support the ongoing effort in education and raising awareness on this issue. The flash cards can be so useful to distract the children that are not used to sitting in carseats, just one of the many ways to ensure they get strapped and seated in any ride, even the short ride to the grocery store.