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Tips for driving with kids: guide to car and booster seats

Any parent or caregiver understands the challenges of keeping kids entertained and safe, especially during longer car rides. Furthermore, driving with a baby or toddler is not as simple and you need to ensure that you follow the South African law.

If you’re new to driving with kids, understanding the different car and booster seat requirements can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled some essential tips for driving with kids so you can keep your little ones safe and occupied as you focus on the road ahead.

Keeping your kids safe with car seats

Travelling on the road with kids isn’t just about keeping them entertained – it’s also about abiding by car seat laws to make sure they’re as safe as can be.

Here’s what you need to know before you hit the road with the little ones.

Understand South African car seat laws

Seat belts and car seats are essential for minimising injuries during collisions. They not only reduce the seriousness of injuries but also prevent injury to other passengers.

According to South African law, all children under the age of three must be secured in a car seat suited to their weight and height. Therefore, it’s illegal to drive with a child under three if they’re not strapped safely into a car seat. Furthermore, this car seat must meet the minimum prescribed SABS standard.

Children aged three to fourteen must use a suitable car seat or booster seat, depending on their weight and height.

What’s the difference between a booster and car seat?

A car seat is designed for infants and children up to three years that are too small for seatbelts. These seats come with a five-point harness to secure the child.

On the other hand, a booster seat is your in-between solution for when a kid is older than three years old but don’t yet fit in a usual car seat and seatbelt system yet. Therefore, a booster seat is used to get the child to use the car’s existing seat belt system to secure them safely.

Follow installation directions

It’s not enough to have a car seat – it must also be properly installed. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure the seat is securely fastened using either the car’s seat belt or the LATCH system.

Correctly position the car seat

Rear-facing seats provide the best protection for infants while forward-facing seats are suitable for toddlers. Booster seats are recommended for young children to ensure proper belt positioning.

For maximum safety, children should ride in the back seat of the car. If it’s absolutely necessary for a child to ride in the front seat, be sure to deactivate any airbags to prevent injury in the event of a crash.

Invest in a proper car seat for kids

A securely installed car seat should be any parent or caregiver’s top priority. It keeps your child protected and prevents them from moving around the car, reducing distractions for you as the driver.

Make sure the seat is appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height, and always double-check that it’s properly secured.

Transition to booster seats for road safety

Move your child to a booster seat when they outgrow the car seat’s height or weight limits or when their shoulders or ears exceed the seat’s dimensions. Booster seats elevate the child’s seating position for better seat belt alignment and safety.

Avoid second-hand car seats

Whenever possible, avoid using old or second-hand car seats. Make sure the seat has all its parts, has never been involved in a severe accident, and hasn’t been recalled. If using a second-hand seat, get the original instructions and check its safety before use.

Limiting distractions during your travels

Driving with kids in the car can cause distractions that can quickly turn into a safety hazard. Here are some ways you can keep your kids entertained so you can focus on getting to your destination safely.

Prioritise comfort and take regular breaks

Before you hit the road, attend to your child’s basic needs to limit irritability. Dress them in comfortable clothes suitable for the weather, and have pillows and blankets on hand for added cosiness. Also, don’t forget to pack snacks and drinks to keep hunger at bay and plan regular rest stops for those potty breaks.

If possible, have one adult sit in the back with the child to give them any attention they might need during the drive so that the driver can stay focused on the road.

Let them choose their entertainment

Transform the backseat into a playground by letting your kids select their own entertainment items. A backseat organiser is perfect for storing books, colouring pencils, and favourite toys. Encourage them to pack their essentials but be sure to double-check their choices to avoid noisy distractions.

Surprise them

Create excitement with a surprise goodie bag filled with simple snacks, toys, and activities. It doesn’t have to break the bank – homemade treats like fruity muffins or trail mix are both healthy and delightful surprises for your little travellers.

Consider audio books

Engage your kids with captivating audiobooks played through the car’s sound system. Not only do they provide entertainment, but they also spark conversation and imagination, making the journey enjoyable for everyone.

Get car insurance to protect you financially

Don’t forget that having the right car insurance for your needs is essential to protect you and your family financially or in the event of a breakdown or accident.

If you’re looking for affordable car insurance suited to your needs and budget, take a look at the various insurance plans offered by Prime South Africa. You can also get your personalised quote online today.

Enjoy a safe and happy road trip

By following South Africa’s car seat laws and implementing the safety tips mentioned above, you can create a safe and enjoyable time for your children during your travels. So buckle up, hit play on that audiobook, and embark on your next family road trip with confidence!


This article provides general information on keeping your kids safe during car rides. However, other helpful information on the topic may be missing from this article. Therefore, always do your own independent research.

Remember to buy car insurance with much thought and only through a certified financial services provider.

Reach out to us today to learn more about getting affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess*. *T&Cs apply.

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