Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive place to own a car. Yet, many Singaporeans continue to buy cars, with even low-income families seeing the purchase as necessary. Why? One of the key reasons is that cars make travelling with kids more convenient.
If you are thinking about getting a car so that you can put your kid’s stroller, diapers and milk bottles in it while you do your weekend grocery shopping, read on to find out more about the child car safety laws in Singapore, and simple ways to childproof your car.
Car Safety Law in Singapore
Compared to many other countries, Singapore’s child car safety laws are considered quite lax. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing, since it means children here are more vulnerable to being hurt in a car accident.
Currently, Singapore’s Road Traffic Act states that children under 1.35m tall are legally required to be in an approved child restraint when travelling in a vehicle. However, this law does not currently apply to taxis as it is deemed impractical. The law, however, does apply to private car hires like Grab.
The types of child restraints that are approved by the traffic police are listed below:
- the American Standard FMVSS 213;
- the British Standards B.S. 3254: Part 2: 1988, B.S. AU 202a: 1988, or B.S. AU 185: 1983;
- the Australian Standard AS 1754-1975 (including AS 1754.1-1989 Part 1, AS 1754.2-1989 Part 2 and AS 1754.4-1989 Part 4);
- the European Standard ECE R44;
- the Japanese Standard JIS D0401-1990.
Additionally, children or persons below the height of 1.35m shall only ride in the rear of the taxis.
Making your car safe for your little one
According to this Straits Times article, more than 50 per cent of children in motor vehicle accidents taken to KKH’s emergency room between 2012 and 2015 were not restrained at all. What’s also shocking is that three times as many babies died in car accidents in Singapore in 2014 when compared to the US.
While we can understand that getting a car seat specially for taking taxis might seem a bit of a hassle, it doesn’t quite seem to be a valid reason if you have your own car and often use it to ferry your child around. Worry not because making your car safe for your kid is actually easier than you think! It can be achieved with a few simple steps on your part:
1.Make use of your vehicle’s safety features
Depending on your car model, each comes with different child-safety features. One of the most important of these is probably the car’s childproof locks. Enabling childproof locks prevents your child from opening the car door while they’re inside the vehicle. If your car does not come with this feature, you can place your child in the middle of the back seat where they cannot reach the door locks. Of course, make sure they are seated in a child restraint or have the seat belt buckled, depending on their age.
You should also do the same for windows. Having the windows locked prevent your child from opening the windows and sticking their heads or hands out of the window.
2. Securing your child’s car seat
The car seat you get for your child depends on his/her age. Young babies generally ride in rear-facing car seats. Putting your child in a forward-facing car seat is not recommended until they are at least 2 years old. The child seat you choose should fit your child’s size and weight so that the seatbelts will be able to secure him/her comfortably. Be sure to also check that the child seat fits your car.
The best rear seat to install the child seat is the middle back seat. This keeps your child away from the doors and windows. Do make sure that you secure the child seat firmly to the car seat itself.
3. Declutter your car
The simple basic step of cleaning out your car of clutter is also part of the plan to keep your kids safe during the ride. Some drivers like to leave their things around in the car – umbrellas, water bottles, tissues and coins are just some of the common items we may find lying around. Others may also stuff some of their car tools or cleaning products around the rear seats. Incidentally, these useful everyday items can become a hazard when there’s a child around. While there may be legitimate reasons to leave them in your car, just make sure to keep them organised and out of reach from your child for safety reasons.
Last but not least, always remember to keep an eye on your child even if you’ve got all the above done. The best would be to have another adult watching them while you drive. Remember to also never leave your child unattended in the car, even if the doors are locked.