As parents, we are always concerned about the safety of our children. That’s why in winter we try to keep them well covered to avoid catching a cold. But that same coat we wear to protect them from the cold can be a death trap in the event of a collision.
Question of measurements
A recent study on “Today” has shown that the thickness of the coat we put on our little ones in winter to protect them from the cold creates an unsafe space between the safety belt of the car seat and the body of small children. In this way, as the bodies are not sufficiently restrained in the seat, the children could be thrown out of the car in the event of a collision at just 60 km/h.
Do a little test
Nothing like testing for yourself. Sit your child in the car seat with their jacket on and adjust the belt, then have them duck down, take the jacket off and sit them back down. Notice that the difference in the belts and his torso is significant. Those few inches can make the difference between a crash with serious consequences and one with nothing to regret. Be cautious and don’t underestimate the safety tests.
One minute makes the difference
Most mums have left the house with the children ready to go out in the cold and just like that put them in the car. This avoids having to take the coat off to get into the car and then put it back on before going out. It’s certainly very convenient, but it puts our children’s lives at risk.
So, take a minute to take off your jacket before getting into the car and then put it on when you leave. Your child’s life is worth much more than one minute. Also bear in mind that accidents are more frequent in winter.
Carry a blanket in the car instead of a coat
If you want to keep your children warm while travelling in the car, you can take a blanket for them. After sitting them each in their seat and adjusting the belt, cover them with a blanket. As we know that sometimes we have problems and time is short, teach them how to get dressed. Surely, they will feel great and independent. Delegate this responsibility to your children if they are already around 3 years old or older. You will be surprised at the results of this idea.
According to current traffic laws, police officers are obliged to stop cars carrying children without respecting safety standards. This basically means that all passengers in the vehicle must have their seat belts properly fitted and fastened. Likewise, the vehicle must have all restraint systems approved, both when travelling on city streets and interurban routes.
For example, in Portugal, according to legislation, children under 12 years of age and up to 135 centimetres tall must always travel in the back seat. They must also be restrained by a child restraint system (CRS) approved for their weight and size. In other words, in case of doubt, a child under 12 years of age must always travel in the back seat with the appropriate restraint system. However, there are exceptions.
When can children travel in the front seat?
A child can travel in the front seat when/if:
- Is over 12 years old, even if he/she is less than 135 centimetres tall;
- Is over 135 centimetres tall, even if under 12 years of age;
- If you are over 3 years old and the car does not have a rear seat or safety belts in the rear seats;
- If you are under 3 years of age and the restraint system is rear-facing and the passenger airbag, described in Article 55 of the Highway Code as the frontal cushion, is switched off.
- In addition to these, there are other, more complex situations where, if you are carrying more than two children under the age of 12, you may carry one of them in the front seat.
In cases where you have to transport three children under 12 years old and 135 centimetres tall and it is impossible to do it in the rear seats, because it is impossible to fit the three CRSs, the taller child, as long as it is over three years old, can travel in the front seat.
A little extra care
It is worth considering whether, even if your child has just turned 12, it is still advisable to take him or her sitting in the front seat. Especially in winter, when there is a greater possibility of accidents due to the weather conditions. We also recommend caution when travelling on roads or highways where cars generally travel at higher speeds.
Share the information
Share this information with your family members to ensure that grandparents, uncles or others who take your children in the car know this information. This way, your children will travel safely with anyone.
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