Alarmingly low usage of child car seats, and the resultant child fatalities on South African roads, have prompted Supa Quick to take action and partner with Wheel Well, a non-profit organisation dedicated to road safety for children, to establish collection points where South Africans can drop off unused, unwanted, as well as new donated car seats.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a car seat reduces the risk of injury by as much as 82% for children, compared to just using a seatbelt alone. Through the Wheel Well initiative, owners can deliver their used car seats to any Supa Quick outlet, where new and used seats will be collected, stripped and washed so they can be donated to parents in need across the country.
“While the Covid-19 lockdown has limited people’s travel, the safety of their children when they do get on the road remains just as important as ever,” Wheel Well founder, Peggie Mars says. “Unfortunately, people have been put under pressure just to cover the essentials due to the impact of national lockdowns on their incomes.
“As such, it is even more important now that those in a better position can come together to offer new parents and parents of young children who are economically affected, some relief through the vital equipment that will keep their little ones safe while driving,” Mars says.
While statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show a decline in overall car accident fatalities in 2019 compared to the previous year, passenger child fatalities are sadly on the rise, from 1419 in 2017, to 1576 in the following year and 1750 reported deaths in 2019, a 14% increase over two years.
According to a recent report produced in collaboration between the University of Cape Town, the SA Medical Research Council and others, children under five years old were at especially high risk of serious injury and death in vehicle crashes in South Africa. The study revealed that despite their known effectiveness in reducing injuries amongst children, the rate of use of child car seats remains low in South Africa, with only 7.8% of child passengers observed to be properly restrained.
In South Africa, it is illegal to travel in a car with a child under 3 years old not strapped into an approved child safety seat. While 92% of survey respondents claimed to have knowledge of current child restraint legislation, only 32% of those parents and carers were able to correctly identify the age requirements and penalties. Reasons given for not owning a child car seat included high cost and the belief that seatbelts were a suitable alternative.
The country needs to do more, through education and access to affordable used car seats, to ensure that all South African children are in car seats. Mars says the collaboration with Supa Quick offers an important logistical component in the ability to efficiently source and distribute car seats to those in need.
“Supa Quick currently boasts a network of over 200 fitment centres around the country,” says Supa Quick brand manager, Yolandi Grundeling. “Through our vast national footprint, we are able to make a real difference. People wanting to donate a car seat won’t need to travel far, as a Supa Quick store is likely around the corner from their home or work.
“This initiative is very close to our hearts. We believe we can make a real difference through our partnership with Wheel Well and with the support of our fellow South Africans. We are encouraging all South African’s that have a spare car seat to come drop it off at their closest Supa Quick – together we can save precious lives,” Grundeling adds.
The car seat donation drive will commence on 28 July.