When it comes to child car safety, it is disappointing to say that Malaysia has quite lax laws. In fact, there isn't any official guideline as to what a parent is required (and not required) to do while transporting a child under the age of 12.
While many countries clearly stipulate that a child under the age of 12 is not allowed to sit in the front seat, in Malaysia there is no such ruling. Thus, the child's safety really depends on his or her parents. Therefore, as a parent, it is pertinent for you to know what the guidelines and considerations are for children travelling in cars.
To get you started, here are some things to look out for when it comes to child car safety.
Choose the right seat
Confused about what seat your child should be using — a baby seat, a child seat or a booster seat?
According to Malaysia's Road Safety Department, baby seats are for infants up to one year old, weighing no more than 9kg. As long as the baby's neck is not strong yet, he or she goes into the baby seat, which should be in the back of the car and secured with the rear seat belt.
Children aged nine months to four years old weighing between 9kg to 18kg should be sitting in a child seat. This should also be secured in the back seat with the rear seat belt.
For children aged four to 11, weighing 15kg to 36kg, he or she should sit in a booster seat. Again, secure this with a rear seat belt. Also, make sure you pick a seat that fits properly in your car. The right gauge? To be able to tighten the seat so that it can't move more than one inch from side to side or front to back.
To the back
With the introduction of airbags in cars today, it is not safe to put your child in front next to you. Should an accident happen, the impact of the airbag opening can be very dangerous to your child. The thing to do? Put your child in the back seat.
Buckle up
It is a law for everyone to buckle up in Malaysia (there is a fine of RM2,000 if you are caught without your seat belt on, whether up front or in the backseat) but when it comes to your child, merely buckling up is not enough.
Make sure you give your child the adequate protection with the seat belt. If your child is not tall enough, use a booster seat when seated behind. Should there be an impact if there is an accident and your child is using the rear seat belt, there can be injury around the neck area due to the force of the impact.
If you use the regular seat belt, your child can suffer from back and limb injuries if the seat belt does not reach his or her abdomen. Furthermore, if your child is too small, your child can slip off underneath the seat belt, resulting in massive injuries.
Don't share the same seat
A lot of parents are guilty of this — letting the child sit on a parent's lap in the front passenger seat. Even if you are both strapped in, an accident can be fatal for the child.
In an impact, the space between the dashboard and the child is narrower, which will cause massive injuries to your child. Also, if there is an airbag, your child will have a higher chance of suffocation.
When possible, buy new
Well-meaning friends may offer you their hand-me-down car seats. That's great but make sure that the used car seat is not missing any essential parts. If the car seat has seen through more than one child, you are probably better off getting a new one for yourself.


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