RAA is pleading for motorists to properly restrain their young passengers in an effort to reduce road trauma.
The call comes as latest SA police figures show 3100 motorists were caught failing to properly restrain passengers aged under 16 in the past five financial years, resulting in almost a million dollars ($943,000) in total fines.
Police figures also show the rate of motorists being fined rather than cautioned for the offence has increased, from 64 per cent in 2016/17 to 76 per cent last financial year.
Tragically, eight passengers aged under 16 have lost their lives on SA roads in the past five calendar years, while another 74 have been seriously injured and 1448 received minor injuries, police figures also show.
RAA is reminding motorists to be vigilant around schools, as tens of thousands of students return to class today.
RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain said children were at risk of serious or fatal injury if they were not properly restrained in a vehicle.
“It’s of vital importance that drivers correctly restrain youngsters for all trips, irrespective of the distance travelled, as crashes can occur at any time,” he said.
“A child who is properly secured in an approved child restraint is far less likely to be injured or lose their life in a car crash than one who is not, research shows.”
Mr Mountain reminded motorists that young children were also at risk of being injured by airbags when seated in the front of a car, or if restrained by a seatbelt before they were big enough to wear it properly.
He said RAA’s Safety Centre found a majority of child restraints checked were either not correctly installed or not correctly used.
“It’s crucially important for motorists to ensure they not only provide children with a restraint that’s suitable based on their size and age, but one that’s fitted and adjusted correctly as well,” he said.
Mr Mountain asked motorists to adhere to the 25km/h limit when students were present in school zones, and advised school crossings would again be in use during drop off and pick up times. He reminded motorists to keep a look out for youngsters at these locations and be prepared to stop.
“Remember that pedestrian crossings with traffic signals on major roads near schools will be in more frequent use from today,” he said.
“Also Remember parked vehicles can also make it harder for drivers to spot younger children trying to cross the road, and be careful not to double park or park in driveways or too close to intersections when dropping off or picking up the kids.
“With the return to school comes an increase in traffic, so commuters should allow more travelling time if they’ve been leaving a little later over the past couple of weeks.’’
Note for editors:
South Australian child restraint laws include
Children seven years and over are required to be restrained in an approved child restraint (child safety seat or booster seat depending on their size) or a properly fitted and adjusted seatbelt.
Children from the age of four to seven years old must be seated in an approved forward-facing child restraint (with inbuilt harness) or an approved booster seat (restrained by a correctly adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness).
Children from the age of four to seven years are permitted in the front of the vehicle if all rear seats are already occupied by children up to the same age (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).
Children under the age of four must be seated in the rear of the vehicle (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).