Newly Amended NRTA Regulations Require Children to Be Appropriately Restrained
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
On Friday, 31 October 2014, the new amended regulations to the National Road Traffic Act (1996), NRTA, were promulgated in the Government Gazette. Some key amendments were made that are in line with our efforts to increase compliance and improve safety on our roads.
The most notable amendment is in Regulation 213(d) (6A) which now requires infants (defined as 0 – 3 year olds) to be transported in appropriate child seats when travelling in private vehicles. The NRTA had previously not made any provision for the protection of children aged between zero to three years.
An analysis conducted by Safely Home, using audited fatality data from the Forensic Pathology Services of the Western Cape Department of Health, showed that the majority (53.42%) of the bodies of young children who died as passengers in road crashes were recovered outside or under the vehicle. The presence of the body outside the vehicle is a near-certain indicator that the child was not restrained or was improperly restrained, as ejection does not occur when an appropriate child restraint is used. The presence of the body inside the vehicle, however, is not an exclusionary factor in determining if the child was restrained or not. The analysis therefore erred on the side of caution by default.
The data is indicative of a minimum of two small children being killed on Western Cape roads each month after being ejected from a vehicle in a road crash. Passengers ejected from a crash face a 75% chance of being killed due to ground impact injuries and collisions with other objects and vehicles.
Child Passenger Mortality in the Western Cape 2011 – 13
|Age||Outside Vehicle||Inside Vehicle||Unknown||Total|
Source: Forensic Pathology Services, Department of Health, Western Cape
There are too often indications of the absence of child restraints amongst child passengers killed in the Western Cape, where road deaths per capita are approximately 38% lower than in South Africa in general. The situation is undoubtedly consistent or worse throughout South Africa.
The fine for people who offend by not transporting children aged 0 – 3 years in appropriate child seats must still be determined following the submission of recommendations on an amount to the Chief Magistrates of different districts for consideration and approval. Recommendations will need to be made in respect of all new offences that have been created by these amended regulations.
The Western Cape Government would like to see the extension of the child seat requirement to all children who cannot safely use an adult seat belt. A proposal to this effect will be submitted for the next round of amendments to the NRTA.
Professor Sebastian Van As, Head of the Trauma Unit, Red Cross Children’s Hospital, and Chair of Childsafe SA, has come out in full support of the new regulations, and the possible extension to all children.
“These new amended regulations are a step in the right direction towards the protection of young children on our roads. Parents who can afford to have a vehicle must also be in a position to ensure that their children are appropriately restrained, which will undoubtedly save thousands of young lives that may have otherwise been lost during a crash,” said Professor Van As.
Other notable new amendments published are:
- Regulation 32A, requiring for all to provide proof of address for NATIS within one year of promulgation.
- Regulation 215 requiring, from 1 December 2016, new taxis, buses and trucks will have to be fitted with a speed governor (80 for trucks, 100 for taxis and buses).
- Regulations relating to provisional driving licences, and the promulgation of a list of offences for which a driving licence will be suspended for 24 months, making the process of attaining a driving licence more stringent.
My department will study the new amended regulations very closely, and make the necessary recommendations on their implementation.
Children who are unrestrained even on an adult’s lap will be seriously injured or killed, even in a slight collision. We therefore appeal to all motorists and parents to buckle young children in appropriate car seats, and protect them from the horrific injuries suffered by unrestrained kids.
Read more in the amended National Road Traffic Act Regulations.