Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are your kids safe in your car?

I have been meaning to write about hypermiling since my last post about fuel saving devices. And wanted to do so today. But what I saw this morning made me change my mind and switch to this topic instead.

There seems to be a lot of ignorant or utterly stupid Malaysian drivers around. No, I'm not referring to the those who hog lanes or tailgate or any other kinds of inconsiderate drivers ... for them, I'll probably reserve a whole future post!!

I'm referring to the loving and obliging parents who are either too clueless or thoughtless about child-safety in cars. These are the people who allow their kids to stand or climb around in the front passenger seat or sit in the driver's lap, while the car moves along at full speed.

Haven't they heard of this thing called inertia?
  • The kid is standing on the passenger seat one minute, the car hits another car, and in the next split-second, the kid smashes through the windscreen to who-knows-what beyond that.

Haven't they heard of these things called airbags?

Don't be misled by movies or TV shows
which always seem to show airbags as gentle, pillowy,

rubber balloons that perfectly protects the driver
and doesn't even
mess up your hairdo!
  • In an accident, an airbag deploys at the speed of 320kmh ... and 'deploy' means the tough nylon bag smacks into your face and chest faster than you can blink!
  • The airbag has to deploy with sufficient force to prevent the body from hitting against the steering or dashboard.... i.e. has to hit you hard and fast enough so you will not travel more than a few inches forward
  • Old airbags have only one setting -- they fully deploy when triggered -- regardless of whether you're at 25kmh or 60kmh
  • New airbags have a 2-stage mode -- they fully deployment at high speed crashes; partially at lower speeds
  • Airbags are built for adults.... they are extremely harmful or even deadly for children below 12
  • If a child seat / bassinet is placed with the child facing the airbag -- if deployed, the airbag will likely kill the child
  • If the same seat is placed facing backwards (away) from the airbag -- the bag is strong enough to smash through the seat, killing the child by inflicting massive head injuries; or it could push the seat backwards and crush the child against the seat
  • Airbags are a form of SRS (supplementary restraint system) and WILL ONLY WORK properly when used together with seat belts. If you think the airbag alone will safe your skin, YOU'RE WRONG
  • If you must have your child sit in front, look up the manual on how to disable the passenger-side airbag

Haven't they heard of rear passenger seat belts -- tie those little squirts up in the back!
  • Allowing the children to roam about freely at the back is also rarely a good a really bad idea
  • Don't wait until the law is enforced.... Singapore has enforced it, Australia has enforced it.... do you think just because Malaysia has deferred the enforcement by 6 months, the laws of physics will also not apply for 6 months?
  • Use a booster seat to make sure the child is brought up to sufficient height for the seat belt to work properly

The technologies in modern cars are lightyears better than those of 25 years ago. You now have the ABS, EBD, Airbags, pre-tensioner seat belts, vastly better tyres, slip and skid control, impact crumple zones, more rigid passenger area.... the list goes on.

But wonderful as these safety innovations are, they come to nothing, if we do not heed safetly practices and put our own children in harm's way.

Sorry if I've been preachy .... have a good drive, and may you and your family arrive safely!

Read more about airbag safety here and here.

8 commented:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the topic on rear seatbelts should crop up cos this was the topic of discussion with my family member tonight.

Here's the deal. The govt has made it compulsory to put on rear seat belts by next year. So we'd expect this law to be enforced despite the countless lackadaisical attitude of many road users (car and bike) in Malaysia? Who are they kiddin?

Besides, the level of road safety awareness in this country is almost non existent. I'm exaggerating? Really? Check if you stop behind the white line the next time you hit a red light at a junction, Check the last time you drove below 80km/h along Federal Highway, check the last time you signal before you change lane...

Of course I'm not referring to you specifically CP, but generally speaking.

To right this wrong, lets start with ourselves. Set an example for ourselves and convince yourself that you obey the law because you belief it is the right thing to do.

If you need more convincing, you'll notice a higher mileage out of your litre of petrol by practicing good driving habits.

Center Parted said...

Well said, WLE, well said!

Anonymous said...

I've answered your question about my photos here. Hope that helps! :)

Raynebow said...

I kena airbag-burns before...and the smell of it when it deploys...yucks!

tasy said...

Yes, I share your same sentiments. I had been forcing my kids to buckle up for quite some time now. Reading this made my enforcement urge even stronger.

Center Parted said...

Dear CC,

Thanks for the reply... nice to know that the lovely photos are shown pretty much as-is and without manipulation. You take good photos!!

Center Parted said...

Dear Raynebow,

Oh dear, hope the accident wasn't a bad one?! Hmm.. never thought about the SRS having a bad smell when it deploys!

Center Parted said...

Dear Gargies,

Yes, better be safe than sorry!! Plus there is an added bonus of having your kids strapped up instead of fidgeting or attacking each other, heh heh!