Image of schoolchildren getting into minibus. Copyright ChildSafe

Understanding child restraint usage in Cape Town, South Africa

Child injuries are a major global public health problem, especially in middle-income countries such as South Africa where injury death rates are 41 per 100 000 for under 5s and 24.5 per 100 000 for 5–14-year-olds. It is estimated that 1.34 million children seek medical attention for injuries annually.

Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among children in South Africa – most are injured as pedestrians but around one-third of all injuries are the result of being transported unrestrained in the back of a vehicle despite an amendment to the Traffic Act requiring children under 3 years of age to be in an appropriate child seat.

This project set out to understand the magnitude of the problem and the barriers and facilitating factors around child restraint usage in Cape Town, South Africa. Mixed methods are being employed to better understand the issue. These include:

  1. Retrospective analysis of information on injured children presenting to the emergency unit of Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital, Cape Town across a period of over two decades (1996 onwards).
  2. Review of the current legislation on child restraint usage.
  3. Focus groups and in-depth interviews to understand barriers around child restraint usage.
  4. An observational survey of child restraint usage around the city.
  5. An availability and affordability study.

These data and information will build a case to inform the development of a larger brief intervention trial with parents or caregivers in Cape Town, South Africa.

For more information contact Prasanthi Attwood.

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