Facts of Child Car Seats & Boosters in Singapore |DirectAsia Insurance
Before you start travelling with your baby and young children, here are some rules to follow. While travelling as a family can be fun and exciting – safety should always come first. As a parent, if you are concerned about your child’s safety measures, keep reading.
Child Car Seats
A child car seat is not only important, it’s mandatory. According to Singapore's Road Traffic Act, children under 1.35m tall must be strapped into an approved Child Restraint System (CRS) when travelling in a vehicle. This rule currently does not extend to taxis but does apply to private-hire cars such as GrabCar.
If your child is caught seated in your car without a car seat, first-time offenders can expect a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or a jail term no longer than 3-months. Repeat offenders can expect double the fine and jail time. Do note that body carriers are not considered as a CRS.
Baby on lap in front passenger seat
This is definitely a NO! Legally, a baby should be strapped into a proper car seat and not placed on your lap while you are seated in the front passenger seat. This applies in taxis too, where your child will be required to sit in the back seat – never in the front.
The reason being that in the event of an accident, the risk of a child being flung out of the windscreen is very high. If there is a greater impact, the front airbags may be activated and this could potentially result in a fatality due to the force that is generated upon deployment.
Types of child car seats available
First, ensure that the child car seat you buy is properly certified. The Traffic Police will expect your child seat to fulfil one or more of the following criteria which is approved by these standards:
- 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.
Secondly, you need to consider if a front or rear-facing child car seat is appropriate for your needs. While front-facing child car seats allow parents to view their child, experts say that rear-facing ones are actually safer. We explained why below.
In Singapore, there are 4 main types of child seats available:
- Baby capsules - for newborns to 6 months
- Rear-facing child seat - for newborns to 2 years
- Forward-facing child seat - for 2 to 5 years old
- Booster child seat with or without a backrest - 5 years, until seat belts fit properly
KK Women and Children’s Hospital advises that in the presence of an active air bag, a rear-facing child car seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car. Also, note that the booster child seat without a backrest, while legal, is often unadvisable for parents to use. This is because it does not offer much in terms of protection from side impact. Such child seats are usually favoured for its portability and lightness. Remember that your children can grow really fast, so as parents, we must be proactive in swapping out the CRS for another one better suited to their size.
(Photo Credit: Which)
Another concern is choosing between a front-facing and back-facing child seat for your kid. It is highly recommended for babies up to 15-months to use a rear-facing child seat. Why? Because the child’s head will be better protected and supported as their necks and spines are not well formed yet.
Front-facing child seats do have their benefits too. They offer greater protection to the back and internal organs, making them the preferred CRS for older toddlers.
How to Install A Child Car Seat:
(Photo Credit: AA Singapore)
After selecting the appropriate CRS, the next step would be to install it in your car. In the event of an accident, a properly installed CRS could mean the difference between life and death for your child.
The 2 most common systems for installing child seats are ISOFIX and LATCH. Refer to the graphic above for instructions on how to install a child seat properly using both systems.
As far as car installation goes, the rear seats are generally recommended and favoured, with the middle being the safest spot. This will protect your child from any side impact on the car and debris from a car crash.
If you insist on installing the CRS in the front seat, which is the least safest spot, you should deactivate the airbag for the safety of your child. Airbags have a lot of pressurised air in them and can bring a lot of harm to a small child when activated in the case of an accident.
Changing from a child car seat to a booster seat
This change has more to do with height and size, than age as children grow differently. Usually, child car seats do have a weight limit, but they can seat a child until the age of 3 on the average.
When your child outgrows the car seat, it’s time to shop around for a booster seat so that the seat belt may be strapped across his body snugly.
Baby-wearing in the car
Parents nowadays love the convenience of baby-wearing which is becoming very trendy. While you may be forgiven in thinking that it is a safe alternative while travelling in a vehicle rather than strapping them in a child car seat – this is simply not true.
The importance of a child car seat
Why do we adults wear a seat belt? The obvious answer is that no vehicle is accident-proof, even with airbags installed. Injuries can be sustained even while using a seat belt correctly.
Young children and babies are even more at risk of injuries during a collision or accident, so a child car seat is extremely important to keeping the child safe and secure while on the road. Don’t naively think that the child is safer in your arms, sadly this is not the case.
Car insurance coverage for your baby as a passenger
The thing to remember is that investing in a child car seat and making sure that they are snugly strapped-in during their next car ride is essential for their safety and your peace of mind.