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June 4, 2012

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Most parents unaware of danger, fail to use car child-safety seats

MOST local parents do not install a child-safety seat in their cars and even let children sit next to the driver due to their lack of awareness, a survey shows.

Road-safety experts are calling on the government to pass laws that require parents to put children in heightened seats or cushions in cars to protect them.

"The automobile safety belts and airbags are designed for adult bodies, heights and weights," said Wang Hongyan, a professor with Tongji University's School of Automotive Studies. "The safety measures cannot protect children, who may hurt their spinal cords and suffer internal organ ruptures in traffic accidents."

Most local parents seem to have only a vague awareness of the issue, and the country has no law on special safety seats for children.

About 30 percent of local parents are aware of the potential danger of toddlers sitting in the adult seats, while only 10 percent of parents install safety seats for their children, according to a survey launched by Wang and her team.

"Parents are not willing to do so mainly because the installation and disposal cause them great trouble," Wang said.

"Only a small proportion of them complained the seats are too expensive," she said.

Wang's research team interviewed more than 500 parents from three local kindergartens. More than half of the respondents complained that it's too troublesome to install the seats, while only 10 percent said the price of the child's seat is too much.

Some parents do not know how to choose a child-safety seat, for which prices range greatly - from 100 yuan (US$15.70) to more than 1,000 yuan.

National quality authorities do not supervise child-safety seats because there are no rules and standards for them to base their checks on, Wang said.

Starting on July 1, the seats will be included in the national routine supervision of quality authorities, she said. The quality will be guaranteed but the bigger problem is the lack of use, she said.

"It's more urgent for the country to make a law to force parents to get their children a safety seat in the cars," Wang said.

Wang and her team launched an experiment at the Jiangqiao Toll Station in Jiading District to check whether parents were protecting their children. The researchers found that out only two in 1,100 passing families had installed safety seats or cushions for their children.

About 600 children die in car accidents every year, according to Tsinghua University's Car Collision Lab. Many could have been saved with protective measures.

A three-year-old toddler sitting on his mother's knees flew out of the car that was involved in an accident on Jiaxing Expressway in nearby Zhejiang Province on May 25. The child died at the scene while his mother suffered injuries.


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