SINGAPORE: Last week, a car carrying a family of four slammed into a tree near Lentor Avenue, injuring two young children and killing their mother. One child, who sustained head injuries, is believed to have been riding in the passenger seat without a child or booster seat.
With Traffic Police data showing that about 10.7 per cent of total seat belt violations in the past five years involved children, the Singapore Road Safety Council (SRSC) has said it is crucial that young ones are properly buckled up.
SRSC chairman Bernard Tay said: "A lot of parents feel the child or baby is so small - if you hold them tightly to your bosom or on your lap, it should be okay. But unfortunately, that is not so.
"Research has proven that if a car travels at 50km/h and the child is below 20kg and not well belted up, he will be a living catapult - ejecting through the windscreen. The child could be killed."
Mr Tay added that SRSC wants to intensify efforts in this area, and one possibility it is looking into is to teach parents about buckling up their kids from the moment they leave the hospital with their newborns. This could be done by collaborating with the industry to produce brochures or videos, he suggested.
While the Traffic Police recorded a drop in seatbelt violations last year - from over 11,404 in 2013 and 11,622 in 2014 to about 8,126 in 2015 - Mr Tay said authorities could do more to bring numbers down through greater enforcement action.
"People who don't wear seatbelts - from what I understand, they say it creases their clothing, it's inconvenient, their destination is only a couple of minutes (away), so it causes a lot of inconvenience to belt up.
“I think that thinking is wrong, because accidents can happen anytime and within seconds."
Drivers and passengers who do not wear a seat belt could face a fine of up to S$1,000 or a jail term of up to three months for the first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, offenders face a fine of up to S$2,000 or a jail term of up to six months. Drivers also get demerit points for not wearing a seat belt or failing to ensure their passengers are wearing seat belts.