Proper restraints in vehicles key to child passenger safety
Between January 2012 and April 2016, more than half of the children who suffered road traffic injuries were in motor vehicles.
And of these, half did not have proper restraints, said Dr Chong Shu-Ling, senior staff physician at the department of emergency medicine in KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Lack of proper restraints is especially prevalent in cases involving infants under a year of age, KKH researchers found.
Children aged between one and two years were next, followed by those who were two years and older.
Child passenger safety and safety standards for school buses were the focus of the first School Transport Safety Conference held at the Stamford American Early Learning Village yesterday.
Organised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Singapore, the conference focused on the use of seat belts in school buses and the importance of child passenger safety.
Mr Chandrasekar Palanisamy, group director of traffic and road operations from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), said children are vulnerable road users.
"School children will use different modes of transport to commute to schools," he said in an opening address.
"While there are road safety infrastructures in place, school buses that ferry school children must comply with safety requirements."
From December 2011, LTA has made it compulsory for school buses to install forward-facing seats and retractable three-point seat belts.
Non-compliance may lead to a fine of up to $1,000, or a jail term of up to three months for first time offenders.
Repeat offenders may face a fine of up to $2,000, or a jail term of up to six months, said LTA on its website.
Child passenger safety is not an issue limited to school buses, but in cars and public taxis too, said Ms Vera Fullaway, global brand representative and director of customer service at Safe Traffic System based in the US.
Ms Fullaway, who has more than 35 years of experience in injury prevention education, told The New Paper what might happen if an adult who is not wearing any restraints is carrying a child in her hands.
"A 10kg child will weigh a little over 100kg in restraining force when you travel at 50km per hour," she said.
"In a crash, the child gets hit first and the adult's body hits the child next. There will be no chances of survival for the child when that happens."
Ms Fullaway said non-fatal injuries can also inflict a heavy blow on both the child and the family.
"Non-fatal injuries can be life-long and debilitating. These are head and spinal cord injuries that people are not able to recover from and will put one in a wheelchair for life."
And because a parent may have to look after the injured child for life, such injuries will also incur huge medical and emotional costs, she added.
On Oct 3 last year, TNP reported that a boy, 10, and a school bus driver, 36, sustained minor injuries after an SBS Transit bus crashed into their vehicle in Bedok.
On July 23, 2013, a school bus carrying nine kindergarten children, aged four to six, hit two stationary vehicles and a bicycle.
The children, bus attendant and driver escaped with minor injuries like bruises and bumps, The Straits Times reported.