If you didn’t already know, child car seats or Child Restraint Systems (CRS) will be mandatory for all private cars starting 1 January 2020. Previously, it was supposed to be implemented in 2019, but because this was announced by the former government, the ruling was later set to 2020. The decision to make car seats mandatory is in line with the regulations set by the United Nations. But the bigger picture is to put priority over our children’s safety
Why is this important? Because car seats save lives, much like seat belts do even if they may take up a lot of space and give parents added work to do. However, seat belts are designed for adult bodies and do a poor job at keeping children restrained in an accident. This is why children need to be restrained properly in a car seat that is suited for their height, weight and age group. It is also crucial that the car seat is installed properly according to the manufacturer’s manual for it to be functional at keeping your children safe.
Car seats must meet Compliance
As Malaysia joins other countries in making car seats mandatory, parents need to be aware that only car seats that are in compliance with the United Nations (UN) Regulation No. 44 (ECE R44/04) and Regulation No. 129 (ECE R129) will be allowed for use.
This means no flimsy roll away straps and no fake car seats that do not even have manufacturing labels. Parents are to look out for car seats displaying labels that meet the standards set by the UN that are deemed safe for use according to the child’s height or weight.
As an added measure, parents also need to make sure that the car seat they buy has an orange e-mark sticker containing all the information, product category by weight or height and approval number. It should also have a valid QR label sticker from the Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research which holds the technical specifications of the car seat according to the standard.
Parents can recognise this QR label easily as it uses a white background and measures about 50mm tall and 40mm wide. This label will be placed by all retailers on the car seats so that parents can be certain of their certification of authenticity as well as their compliance. It will also have information on car seat suitability based on the child’s dimensions, and how parents can properly install them into their vehicles.
Do not be quick to buy cheap car seats
While a cheap car seat might seem like a good deal, it may not meet the necessary safety standards required by the UN. Parents should never compromise on the safety of their children when it comes to buying car seats. When parents buy a poorly made car seat, they are exposing their child to a higher risk of serious injury should an accident occur.
There will be plenty of unscrupulous sellers on the internet who would try to sell you car seats that do not meet the minimum standards for cheaper, so be sure to check for compliance in person. It is better to have peace of mind than to regret when it is too late.
Saving up to buy a suitable car seat should be a top priority. With the 1 year delay in implementation, parents should already have ample time to save up for one. Do not be fooled by cheaper options when the average cost of car seats is anything between RM150 to RM300++. The money invested in buying a good car seat can be earned back, but we can never put a price tag on a life lost.
Important Reminders to Parents
- There is no “best” or most “safe” car seat in the market. The right one is one that is in compliance with the United Nations (UN) Regulation No. 44 (ECE R44/04) and Regulation No. 129 (ECE R129). You can read more about this on the Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research website and download their comprehensive guideline manual here.
- A car seat that will keep your child safe is one that is the right size for your child which is installed and used correctly every time you drive.
- Never place a child car seat or booster seat in the front because they can be seriously hurt by the force of the airbag deploying in the event of an accident. Car seats should always be placed in the back seat.
- Always refer to the manual when installing child car seats. Not all car seats are installed the same way.
- Do not buy based on price alone. Higher prices do not equate to a car seat that is safer or more practical to use. Remember to check for compliance.
- Avoid using hand-me-downs or secondhand car seats because they do have an expiry date. The expiry date or manufacturing date is usually printed on the manufacturing label. Generally, car seats expire 6 years after the date of manufacture.
- Keep them rear-facing for as long as you can! This is actually safer for them!
Aside from setting good examples, parents need to be consistent when training their child to remain in their car seats. They may cry and protest, but remember that the crying is only temporary. You are doing this for their safety.