Parents, buckle your kids to their seats, please

A little head kept popping out of the front passenger’s seat window. The boy, perhaps no older than six years old, was clearly having fun catching the wind on his face.

There were several other older individuals in the vehicle, driven by a woman. While the driver had her eyes on the road, the other passenger, a girl, seated behind, was pretty much glued to her mobile phone.

The scene took place on Thursday, about 10.50am along the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway.

I cringed and pretty much took it out on the steering wheel of the vehicle I was driving. If the steering wheel could talk, it would have screamed.

The passenger seated next to me quickly whipped out her phone and snapped a picture of the boy’s head outside the car, just as both vehicles took different routes to exit the expressway.

We were reminded of the video that featured three children sitting on the window frame of a moving vehicle. The video made its rounds, prompting police to act.

What were the parents thinking, allowing children to either poke their heads, or plonk their entire bodies outside a moving vehicle? How can they even justify this “roller coaster” ride that could easily have resulted in the young ones smashing their heads on the asphalt?

There are those who say that this is due to the lack of enforcement. The authorities, namely the police and the Road Transport Department, are quick to nab motorcyclists with loud exhausts, but seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to children who are not secured in their seats.

The sound of modified exhausts can be pretty annoying, but in terms of risk of physical injury, is nothing, compared to allowing children to travel, unsecured, in motor vehicles.

Discussions about child safety seats have been around for more than five years. Yet, nothing concrete has really come out of it. Each time the government tries to make it mandatory, the usual excuses would surface – like how families do not have enough money to buy the seats.

While some genuinely cannot afford it, there are many who can, but who continue to dismiss this, calling it petty.

These are the same people who would rather spend money on polishing their rides, boosting their cars’ audio systems, or tuning their engines. Suddenly, a decent child car seat, that averages about RM150, is considered too expensive.

The best enforcement starts at home. Parents and guardians need to be aware that anything can happen on the road. As such, they must ensure that the child travelling in the vehicle is securely strapped to his, or her seat.

Driving on the road is not a video game where you can start, pause, or reset your journey at the touch of a button. One wrong move and the life of the unstrapped, unsecured innocent child in your car is lost – forever. When that happens, there’s no one to blame but you, and only you.

If your child really wants to enjoy the breeze, just park the car at home, get a fan, roll down the window and let the breeze from the fan blow on their faces. Just make sure that the fan is placed at a safe distance, for that too, can be a hazard.

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