Why you should never drive with your baby on your lap

by Peggie Mars, Wheel Well
Why you should never drive with your baby on your lap
Reading Time: 3 minutes
The bond between a parent and their child is undeniably strong, and it’s natural for parents to want to keep their little ones close. However, when it comes to driving, the safety of both the parent and the child should always be the top priority, says Peggie Mars, BYY’s car safety expert.

It’s unfortunate that some parents still choose to drive with their baby on their lap, unaware of the significant dangers associated with this practice.

Let’s explore the risks and consequences of driving with a baby on your lap.

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Lack of restraint

One of the most apparent dangers of driving with a baby on your lap is the absence of any form of restraint. In the event of a sudden stop or a collision, an unrestrained child becomes a projectile within the vehicle, putting them at an extremely high risk of injury.

Even at low speeds, the force generated during a crash can lead to severe consequences for both the adult and the child. It is crucial for parents to prioritise the safety of their children by using appropriate child restraint systems, such as rear-facing car seats, forward facing car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, depending on the child’s age and size.

Airbag risks

Modern vehicles are equipped with airbags designed to provide additional protection in the event of a crash. However, these safety features can become deadly when a child is seated on an adult’s lap.

Airbags deploy with tremendous force, and their impact can cause serious injuries, especially to infants and small children. Placing a child on your lap puts them directly in the path of the deploying airbag, increasing the likelihood of severe harm.

Visit: Car safety while pregnant

Collision forces

In a collision, the forces exerted on an unrestrained child are immense. The weight that the child takes on is equal to their weight multiplied by the speed before impact. For example, if a child weighs 10 kgs and you were traveling at 60 km/h, the child takes on the weight of 600 kgs during the collision. It’s crucial to understand that there’s no way to hold onto them securely during such a forceful impact.

Legal consequences

Apart from the obvious safety risks, driving with a baby on your lap may also have legal repercussions. In South Africa it is law that all children under 3 are restrained in a suitable car seat, and that children between 3 and 12 years must be restrained in a suitable car seat if one is available otherwise, they must be restrained on the back seat. Driving without securing your child in an appropriate restraint system can result in fines.

The dangers of driving with a baby on your lap are clear and should never be underestimated. The potential for serious injuries and even fatalities is far too great to ignore.

Is it safe to have a baby on your lap while drivingUltimately, the responsibility of ensuring a child’s safety while driving falls on the shoulders of every parent or guardian. By understanding and acknowledging the risks associated with driving with a baby on your lap, we can collectively work towards creating a safer environment for our youngest passengers and fostering a culture of responsible parenting on the road.

Also reads: Car seats save lives
Check out: The best car safety tips

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