I am Alive Because of My Child…But my Child is Not…Alive!

I can keep going on and on about all the issues that irk me day after day, as far as drivers and cars in Mumbai are concerned. Overshooting the white line at the signal, incessant honking, refusing to give way and driving in the middle of a two-lane road, making sudden turns without signaling…the list is virtually endless.
However, among all these, the one thing that really drives me around the bend, is seeing adults holding infants and children in their laps in the passenger seat.
This has to be the most insane thing that a parent or adult can do. Just so that there is no misunderstanding and to ensure that we are all on the same page here, let me run through this scenario again. I am talking of a situation where an adult or parent sits in the front seat of a moving car with a child on his/her lap.
Seeing this make me so mad, that I have actually overtaken cars on the road, made them stop and berated the parents and drivers. Unfortunately, this never works. Why is this such a big deal? Are you kidding me?
Let’s assume that you are in a head-on collision. You are in the passenger seat, with your son or daughter in your lap. The force of the collision will either create an impact between the front dashboard and your body or will cause the airbags to get activated. When this happens, your child will be your cushion. In effect, your child will bear the brunt of all the high-impact forces and reduce their effect on you. You will live, but your child may not.
I know this sounds quite gruesome, but I really don’t know how else to get this message across. In the Western, developed world, a child has to be kept in a proper car-seat with correct restraints/belts in the back-seat of the car, even if there is no one else in the car. No child is allowed to ride in the front-seat, forget about riding in the lap of an adult. Please understand that in the event of a collision, even an airbag can kill a child. Not only that, since children can rarely be still for more than 1-2 minutes at a time, they can significantly distract the driver, if they are in the adjacent passenger seat, which can in turn lead to an accident.
Even holding a child in your lap or arms in the back-seat is not acceptable because in the event of an accident, an unrestrained child will be flung around in the car and can suffer serious injuries. But just as many motor-cyclists still don’t wear helmets, drivers in many other cities in India still don’t wear seat-belts, families of four still ride together on a dinky scooter, I guess some things will not change unless there is strict legislation and enforcement.
It is because of this enforcement, that at least in Mumbai, we all wear seat-belts, irrespective of whether we believe this saves lives or not. Trust me, it does! It is the same strict enforcement that has made people think ten times before driving after drinking and probably three-four times before driving while talking on a cell-phone.
I am quite clear about this. The next driving law we need enforced has to be about child safety. All children should be in the back-seat, in car-seats and/or wearing seat-belts. No children should be seen in the front-seats and definitely not in some idiot adult’s lap.
Is someone listening?

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