Writing down this title, gives me shivers down my spine as I force myself to think back to the morning I got that call. I was on maternity leave with Daniel who was only 4 weeks old at the time. Ian and Emilie had just left home for school, work trip. Emilie was buckled in the front seat. I got the call about 30 minutes after they left. Thinking they had forgotten something I answered pretty upbeat. I could tell when I answered that Ian was disoriented and upset, and that there was a huge commotion happening around him. 

front seat“We’ve been in an accident,” he stammered, “they are taking Emilie to Greenacres hospital to get checked out – can you call someone to meet her there?” He must have explained some more stuff, but I think my ears were ringing. My hands immediately started sweating as all the worst thoughts popped into my head. Here I was home with a baby, without transport and my child was on her way to the hospital alone. I made some calls and was fortunate enough to have someone available to meet her at the hospital when she arrived. Did you know that the majority of car accidents happen close to home – one study shows 52%, within 8km and 77% within 25km. We became a statistic. Driving up the road, …to the shop quickly, and close by mean nothing.

Emilie walked away from that situation in a sling. We were lucky. Ian was driving in bumper to bumper traffic so his speed was nothing over 60km, even at that speed, they were afraid she had dislocated her shoulder from impact. When a car crashes or suddenly stops, the body takes on the weight of the speed you are traveling multiplied by your actual weight. Emilie weighs around 40kgs so her weight became around 2400kgs… hence the ambulance, the hospital and the sling.

front seat

A child should not be allowed to sit in the front passenger seat of a car until they are at least 13 years old. Their bodies are not developed enough to withstand the forces of a crash in that position. An airbag activating can seriously damage an underdeveloped body. Even if your child is tall, big boned or really mature. They still need to be in the back seat. Emilie is 11, she’s nearly my height and I too assumed that she was okay to drive up front. No one wants to drive a taxi. But it’s too much of a risk to allow. Not because Ian or I are reckless drivers but because you cannot guarantee the next driver.

Sometimes it feels like Emilie is a grown up, less dependent child. She is, in comparison to Daniel who still needs 24/7 attention and decisions made for him. But you know what, she isn’t an adult. I still have to make choices and decisions to protect her, I don’t get to dress her but I do get to make sure she is as safe as possible in situations I can control. Like in our car, every single day.

I get to make her aware of the dangers and what we can do, why. I can create habits in our home that will hopefully carry on when my kids one day have kids. Habits like making sure they know how to wear a seat belt properly. Why it’s important that it is worn properly, and that if it isn’t it can actually cause more harm than good. Showing her the speed limits, and zebra crossings and why you should slow down around schools and nurseries. To entrench in her that which we should all already be doing. And to lead by the example I would like her to follow.

#CarseatFullstop was created by local Cape Town mom, Mandy Lee Miller (MLM). Children are dying every day because their caregivers didn’t know…They didn’t know that a car seat belt can kill a child…They didn’t know that the slightest mistake in installing their car seat or securing their child in that seat might mean that the seat won’t work… Most importantly, they didn’t know – or fully understand – that a car seat is needed by every child under 1.5m tall EVERY single time they get into a car..

No parent should lose a child because they didn’t know.

The #CarseatFullstop team are a team of parents just like you… We want to make sure that if the worst happens, you KNOW that you have done every single thing you can to keep your child, or grandchild, or niece or nephew, or any child you care enough to be traveling with – as safe as they possibly can be. One of the things learnt when #CarseatFullstop ran last year, was that even WE, the parents passionate about car seat safety and sharing this message, DIDN’T know. There is so much to know… So many little things that we don’t even know that we don’t know.

Learn with us by following us on social media site listed below. With statistics saying that up to 93% of people aren’t strapping in their kids… We ALL know somebody who is adding to that number. Please share these posts far and wide – “You have the power to save a little life. One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life. #CarseatFullstop. Every child. Every time. No matter what.”

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6 Comments on The day my daughter got to drive in an ambulance – Under 13’s in the front seat

  1. That must have been so scary ! Thank goodness Emilie and your husband was okay. So much education and I’m guilty of letting things go “just this once”. But if only takes once for something to happen

    • It was incredibly scary. But we were lucky and it taught us a big lesson, there is so much to learn though. And as long as we are learning and doing things better from there we are doing what we can. 🙂 I’ve made sooooo many mistakes this campaign has just made me so so aware! But yes, its just that once…

  2. Thanks for sharing. I think that before I didn’t really think about the front seat thing. I’m sure I also let Addison drive in the front seat when we’re alone and going to Spar quickly. Lots of food for thought!

    • And when you think of a carseat your mind immediately goes to the little people, you know? And after what happened I always think twice about that short distance, that quickly. I think she’s also learnt because she just goes to the back now. It was scary for us all. xx

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I am glad Emilie is okay. I am guilty of this twice each individually with the twins when I had them alone with me. Uhuh back seat rides still for years to come

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