Armenian health minister locks horns with parents over car seat use
Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosyan tested the effectiveness of seat belts in cars using a special accident simulator today in order to demonstrate the importance of carseats.
He placed a test doll on his knees during a simulated accident, which flew out of his hand – in this fashion, Torosyan was trying to demonstrate the importance of carseats.
What the experiment of the minister showed
Arsen Torosyan twice went through a simulation of an accident at a speed of 30 km/h. After the end of the experiment, Minister Torosyan said that he specifically held the toy not very tight. After all, road accidents usually happen unexpectedly.
“It is dangerous for a child to sit on a parent’s lap, because during an accident he will most likely fly forward and may be seriously injured. Moreover, in the front seat the risks to the child are much greater than in the back.”
The minister’s fight for carseats
Arsen Torosyan began to fight for the use of children’s car seats immediately after his appointment as minister.
The calls of the minister eventually resulted in a bill to change the rules for the transportation of children.
According to the changes, children under seven years old must be in the car in a car seat, and over seven years old, they must be fastened with a seat belt.
Torosyan says global practice shows the use of car seats significantly reduces the possibility of injuries for children in accidents.
“When a child sits correctly in a child car seat, this reduces the possibility of injury to children under 4 years old by 50% in the front seat and 80% in the backseat.”
Why the law caused discontent
The law on the mandatory use of child seats in cars has been divisive.
Supporters says that the additional safety for children is indisputable, and that the fines of 5,000 AMD (a bit more than 10 USD) for carrying children on one’s lap or without a car seat are worth the financial burden.
The compulsory use of child seats in cars has created certain difficulties, primarily for poorer and large families.
Compared with the minimum wage, cars in Armenia are expensive, and not everyone can afford to buy car seats – certainly not one, if there are several children in a family. The most inexpensive chair costs 20 thousand drams (about $40), and the minimum salary is 55 thousand drams ($113).