Pupils rewarded for their seatbelt efforts

11.24 | 19 January 2011 | | 3 comments

Shopping vouchers and certificates have been handed out to two primary school pupils from Medway for their efforts in encouraging their peers to wear seatbelts.

Mary May James from Sir Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary, won £125 worth of high street shopping vouchers for designing a poster and Emily Chalmers from Chattenden Primary School received a £25 voucher as runner-up.

Both pupils also experienced Medway Council’s seatbelt sled which demonstrates what it’s like to have a car crash at 5-7mph. After this, the pupils were challenged to write a persuasive text to convince others to ‘clunk click every trip’.

Andy Dickinson, Medway Council’s safer journeys officer, said: “Emily and Mary May proved they had read the seatbelt literature and used facts from this in their writing. The impact of the seatbelt sled experience is clear to see from their work.”

Around 2,000 children and adults have witnessed the seatbelt sled in action with around half experiencing it firsthand. After witnessing a crash on the seatbelt sled, pupils were advised of the legal and safety issues around the use of child seats and booster cushions.

At the start of these sessions around a third of children admitted that they did not wear seatbelts on short and slower journeys.

For more information contact Andy Dickinson on 01634 331832.


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    We are striving to find ways to reduce KSI through lack of seatbelt wearing and improve the child’s and parents understanding of how to correctly wear a seatbelt and the importance of compliance with the law. Research was undertaken before purchasing the equipment to see what possible damage could occur whilst the child is experiencing the sled. There is no evidence an impact of 5 mph will have lasting physical effect on a child however the memory and sensation is one that will remain with them for sometime.

    We have set a minimum age of 9 years old mainly due to the emotional aspect of the experience. The lesson that the seatbelt sled is mainly centred around the requirement to use appropriate child restraints and all children are measured to check whether they require these by law. A booster seat is provided for these children. Once in the seat, all children are shown whether the seatbelt is fitting correctly and a booster seat provided to improve position if necessary and the reasons for this highlighted to the class. Before the school visit, information letters are sent home by schools and a permission slip / disclaimer returned, signed by parents / carers, which we must have possession of before any child gets on the sled. Children are told to keep their tongue behind their teeth, and their hands on their laps

    The information letter includes certain medical conditions that preclude use and if there is any doubt, Children are not allowed to participate on the sled, but are still included in the lesson. Children are restricted to one go on the sled to avoid the possibility of injury as a result of repetition. DfT advice booklets are provided for parent/carer advice after the sessions.

    The equipment that we purchased stated a speed of 5 to 7 mph and it is always placed on a flat, level surface . Our risk assessment states that this must be a grass open area so that the sled can be pinned down and reduce impact noise.

    The good egg guide clinics showed that only 19% of child’s seats are correctly fitted. Hands up surveys in the classes normal had about a third of admitted non compliance with wearing a seatbelt before the sled presentation and almost 100% commitment to wearing them after.

    Andy, Medway
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    I echo Simon’s comments. I think Medway are skating on thin ice if a parent of a child under 14 discovers their child has been on the sled whose neck ‘starts to hurt’.

    Carol, Northants
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    Although the idea of a poster is great and has to be applauded, I have a couple of concerns surrounding the seatbelt sled:
    1. I know of authorities that do not allow anyone under the age of 16 or less than 1.5 m tall on the sled. Are we to presume that Primary School children (who will most likely be neither of these) are being allowed on the sled? Risking even minor damage on their small bodies which are still growing doesn’t seem sensible.
    2. What form of consent / disclaimer took place to allow children of that age on the sled? Such forms of consent for any child under the age of 14 must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. If none took place, there may be some litigious issues here.
    3. The article states 5-7 mph. We are told in some circles that it is only 3-4, and should not be placed upon a slope so as not to increase the speed of the shuttle. Please advise.

    As a parent of a child who is of similar age, I look forward to further responses and comments

    Simon, North East
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