Imperial Car Seats for Kids campaign - find out more!

The campaign has been a phenomenal success

We did an interview with Niki Cronje – Group Marketing at Imperial Group, with regards to her involvement in the ‘Imperial Car Seats for Kids’ campaign. Find out what she had to say about this meaningful initiative!

Hi Niki, could you just tell us a bit about the campaign and how it works, like where you would drop your old car seats off etc?

A: The car seats for kids campaign is one of the few initiatives Imperial Road Safety launched to address the issue of safety on South Africa’s roads, particularly amongst our youngest citizens. Launched in 2012, the Car Seats for Kids campaign aims to collect pre-owned car seats from South African citizens for redistribution to those who can’t afford the gift of safety.

The Car seats for Kids campaign has been a phenomenal success, having collected 7200 car seats to date and handed out over 5 200 of these to families who can’t afford car seats.

All the car seats we collect from the generous public, are re-furbished, safety checked and cleaned by non-profit organisation, Wheel Well, based in Brightwater Commons, Johannesburg, before distribution.

This month we took the Car seats for Kids campaign to Cape Town, where we were able to collect 512 seats from Cape Town residents who dropped off the seats at our various drop off points in the City – just in time for our official handover event which will take place on 3 November 2015, at the Little Ones Crèche in Lansdowne. We will set up a mock road block outside the Crèche where vehicles travelling with children less than 1.5 metres tall, will be pulled over and given a suitable car seat (baby, toddler or booster seats), depending on the child’s requirements. The road block will assist IMPERIAL Road Safety in identifying families within the community in need of car seats, and gift them with the donated car seats on the day.

At Imperial, we always look to where the demand for car seats lies, which determines where we would handout these seats accordingly.

Where did the idea come from or how did you get involved with this particular initiative?

A: South African roads are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, with a high number of road fatalities a year on year. As a company whose business is built on mobility in South Africa, we saw the need to use this kind of influence and expertise to identify the areas we could make a difference – and child safety was on of them. As a result, we identified a company that is already strong in the redistribution of car seats – in Wheel Well – and partnered with them to drive this campaign forward.

In fact Hector Eliott, chief director of the Western Cape’s Safely Home campaign and Road Safety Co-Ordination, recently stated that at least 60% of small child passengers dying on our roads are not being properly buckled up – a very worrying statistic when you consider how many of these children may have survived had they been strapped up correctly in a car seat.

This is a real cause for concern, and parents need to start taking this seriously. Holding your child or letting them sit on your lap is not enough to protect them from the impact of a crash.

The recent legislation introduced by government in April this year, where it became mandatory for all children under the age of 3 travelling in a vehicle to be strapped up, also reinforced our passion as a Group to continue driving forward the message of road child safety.

How many different car seats will a child typically go through, as they grow up?

A: A child will normally go through three different car seats as they grow up according to their height and weight. For infants, a rear-facing baby seat is required up until he/she is at least 9kg. The next step is a toddler seat which a child weighing between 9 – 18 kg seat. Rear facing is first prize if your seat and space in your vehicles allows for it. The last stage of child restraint is a booster seat; best used when a child has outgrown a toddler seat. They are designed for weights from 18kg to 36kg, and will give an added boost in height to your child to help him fit properly within a vehicle’s seat belt height restrictions. He should remain in a booster seat until at least 1.48 meters tall.

What age is it considered safe for a child not to require a child seat anymore?

A: Once a child is over 1.5 metres tall, it becomes safer for them to be buckled up without a car seat. However, it is advisable that children do not sit in the front seat of the vehicle until they are much older – 13 years of age (above 1.5 meters tall) and up.

We recently did an article about airbags, are there dangers involved with the airbag potentially deploying against the child seat (that you’ve heard about)?

A: Placing your child too close to an active airbag could potentially cause a fatal or serious injury, should the airbag inflate and hit your child in the head. As a result, parents should never strap their children into a car seat on the front passenger seat of the vehicle as this is where most airbags deflate. In addition, rear-facing car seats are better to use for this reason too.

Where is the best place for a child seat to be situated?

A: The best place to place your child’s car seat is in the back seat, away from the active airbags. If you’re placing only one car seat in the back seat, install it in the centre of the seat — if a good fit is possible — rather than next to a door to minimise the risk of injury during a crash. This is only applicable however, if you have a proper safety belt in that position, to secure the car seat, and does not apply to ‘across the lap’ safety belts.

Does this change with age?

A: The only thing that should change with age is the type of car seat to be used.

How much does your average, entry-level car seat cost?

A: On average, an entry level car seat would cost parents around R1 000, however this is also dependent on the brand you opt for and the weight/height dependant chair you purchase.

Great, thanks a lot for your answers! Anything else you would like to add?

A: Besides the Car Seats for Kids campaign, Imperial Road Safety is committed to a number of road safety initiatives that focus on increasing road awareness among adults and youth within South Africa. These include: the IMPERIAL Scholar Patrol Improvement Project – which looks at re-implementing scholar patrol in schools as well as educating students and teachers around the basics of road safety, the Highway Patrol Project – providing additional support vehicles for the care and assistance of broken down vehicles and crashes during the busy holiday periods and the Brake and Tyre Watch programme with Fleetwatch, which looks at taking unroadworthy trucks off South Africa’s roads.

To date we have implemented scholar patrol programmes in 700 schools nationwide; collected more than 7 200 car seats for families in need and removed 71% of commercial vehicles (tested through the Brake and Tyre Watch programme) off the road due to faulty brakes & tyres.

We will continue with our commitment to implement these initiatives across the country, to ensure that all South African’s benefit for safer roads.