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Restrain Yourself!

3 min read
If you drive, ensure that you and all your passengers — including those in the backseat — put on regular seat belts or appropriate child restraints. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire, such as a toddler being thrown out of the car in an accident.

While most drivers and passengers in the front of cars comply with buckling up, backseat passengers can be slack about doing so. What some may not realise is that, here in Singapore, seat belt use became mandatory in 1993 for backseat passengers who are at least 1.5m tall; those caught not wearing a seat belt face a $120 fine. Drivers who don’t wear seat belts will be fined the same amount, and further slapped with three demerit points.

Regulations aside, not wearing a seat belt could result in grievous hurt in the event of a road accident. Studies show that the use of seat belts reduces fatalities and the severity of injuries in road traffic accidents. Unrestrained passengers place themselves as well as their driver at great risk of serious injury when involved in a head-on crash.

Similarly, when it comes to child restraints, not using one could subject children to severe and life-threatening injuries. In the United States, it has been found that unrestrained newborns to one-year-olds have a 71% increased chance of injury, while one to four-year-olds have a 54% increased risk, and four to eight-year-olds are at a 45% increased risk.

Besides making sure a restraint is used, parents also need to ensure that they are used in accordance with child seat and car manufacturer instructions in order to be effective. This entails paying heed to proper fastening and buckling, location of placement as well as correct sizing and type of the seats.

Not wearing a seat belt or using a child restraint can result in a wide range of injuries, depending on your position in the car and how you are hit.

Frontal or Head-on Collision
In a frontal or head-on accident, the unrestrained passenger could move downward into the seat and slide towards the dashboard and steering column, sustaining injuries to the lower extremities. Alternatively, the body could move forward, with the head striking the steering wheel or windshield, leading to face, neck and even brain injuries.

Side Impact Collision
In side impact collisions, the types of injuries vary, depending on which side of the car you are sitting on. Those on the side of the car that was struck would usually sustain injuries to the neck, followed by the head, chest, legs and abdomen. For passengers riding on the non-struck side of the car, head injuries are most common, followed by chest injuries. Limb and chest injuries could also occur when they are hit by the body of the person seated next to them.

Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents tend to be violent and often result in deaths. Unrestrained passengers who survive are likely to suffer from head and traumatic brain injuries.

Unrestrained passengers are not only a danger to themselves, they could also put others in the car at increased risk of severe injury when they are catapulted forwards, sideways or backwards during an accident.

If there is sudden braking or collision, an unrestrained child can be thrown against the car interior or out of the car. When it comes to small children, even low-impact accidents could give rise to injuries. Given the kinds of injuries children could sustain in an accident, parents should make the extra effort to ensure that their child is appropriately restrained while in the car.