Why your kids are still at huge risk

So you have Child Safety Seats in your car for your kids, they're safely anchored and the kids are always strapped in and safe?

Think again — all is definitely not as safe as it may seem if the eleven cars tested over the past three years in South African Global NCAP tests are anything to go by. The most recent test results reveal several shocking statistics among one or two positive points, but when it comes to child safety, the results are downright dismal and most often for all the wrong reasons too.

Global NCAP testing in conjunction with the AA, awards a separate Child Occupant Safety Rating to each car over and above the expected Adult Occupant score, in order to highlight the different levels of protection — or is that lack of protection — that vehicles offer to child passengers on the rear seats?

The only safe way for young children to travel is to be properly restrained in a child seat, so the Global NCAP Assessment not only checks the protection provided in the crash test, but it also rates how compatible the car is with the child seats recommended by the manufacturer. 

With that in mind, the results of Child Protection measures offered by the eleven cars crashed into the AA’s wall at 64km/h to date, are nothing short of shocking with myriad causes from entire bench seats tearing out of the car under impact to ISOFIX child seat anchorages coming adrift and even just pure ignorance on certain carmakers’ behalf, when it comes to recommending the correct seat for your child and car. In short, it’s nothing short of disgraceful.

The most recent tests saw the Toyota Avanza, Honda Amaze and Suzuki Ignis smashed into the wall and the effects of that impact on the car’s occupants was measured to international NCAP car safety standards.

While the Toyota Avanza achieved Four Stars in Adult Protection, it only managed poor Two Star Child Occupant Protection, but the reasons for that are most disconcerting because the Avanza’s rear bench seat detached from its anchorages in the vehicle structure. In other words, the rear bench seat complete with a 3 year old dummy in the ISOFIX attached Child Restraint System ripped out the bodywork and came loose in the accident...

The Adult Four Star Honda Amaze fared even worse, only achieving a One Star rating for Child Occupant Protection after the child dummies made contact with the interior of the car, exposing them to the probability of injury resulting in a child head score in the test for both the 18 month and 3-year old dummies.

The Suzuki Ignis likewise scored a disappointing One Star child safety score because Suzuki failed to recommend a Child Restraint System for the test despite Global NCAP considering it the carmaker’s responsibility for the safety of all occupants in a car, which of course means onus is on the carmaker to inform its customers which child seats they should fit to their cars.

In the previous round of tests in 2018, the so-called Nissan NP300 ‘Hardbody’ infamously scored Zero Stars in Adult Safety, but it did not do much better in child safety either, with Two Stars for Child Occupant Protection after Nissan failed to install one of the child seats according to the seat manufacturer's clear instructions. 

The Toyota Yaris scored an average Three Star rating for Child Occupant Protection using child seats recommended by Toyota in the 2018 tests, but two of the other cars crashed were less effective at protecting kids in the back. Hyundai’s i20 achieved a low two star rating for child occupant protection due to the limited protection offered to the 3 year old dummy, but it also completely lacked ISOFIX anchorages and only had a lap belt on the middle rear seat to make it impossible to properly install a Child Restraint System in that position.

The Kia Picanto does include standard ISOFIX Child Restraint System Anchorages, but its child protection was severely compromised by the detachment of the ISOFIX anchorages during the test for a Child Restraint System for 3 year olds to score a poor Two Star rating. The Picanto also only had a lap belt for the middle rear passenger and so cannot correctly accommodate a child seat.

Going back another year, the Renault Sandero delivered the best child occupant protection since South African NCAP testing started in 2017, scoring a fair Four Star rating for child occupant protection, while the Toyota Etios and Volkswagen Polo Vivo both achieved average Three Star Child Safety Ratings, using the child seats recommended by those manufacturers. 

The Datsun GO+ however achieved a low Two Star rating for Child Occupant Protection using a recommended child seat, but the zero-star QQ3 proved to be Chery at the bottom of the South African car safety pile, with a round Zero in child occupant protection too, after Chery failed to recommend specific Child Seats, along with poor vehicle readiness to safely accommodate the child seats.

All in all, a chilling lack of Child Occupant Safety continues to dog everyday cars in South Africa, with some of those tested suffering deadly design faults, while certain carmakers fail to even recommend an adequate Child Restraint System for your kids in their cars. All of which is not just a huge concern, but also an unnecessary secret kept from car buyers.

It’s your kids lives we are talking about here, in the event of an accident. Be aware of these alarming deficiencies and start asking about child safety ratings in any car you are considering — and move on if like many of these cars, there remains a clear disregard for your family’s safety. And share this post — the more families that know about and properly understand these perils, the better...