2 young children and a foreign domestic helper ejected from moving vehicle after child suddenly opens car door at Tsuen Tsing Interchange, President of HKAA describes incident as fluke

Insert picture: Ringo Lee. Tsuen Tsing Interchange

12th March 2023 – (Hong Kong) A traffic accident occurred at Tsuen Tsing Interchange during noon today (12th), where a private car crashed and three individuals fell out of the vehicle. It is understood that prior to the incident, a child suddenly opened the car door, causing a 3-year-old boy, 4-year-old girl, and 39-year-old foreign domestic helper to fall out of the car. Fortunately, all individuals only sustained minor injuries and were conscious when sent to Queen Mary Hospital for treatment.

The President of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, Ringo Lee, described the fact that all injured individuals only sustained minor injuries as a fluke. When speaking to local media HK01, he also pointed out several negligence issues on the part of the driver during the incident, including allowing children to sit alone and not fastening their child seat belts, not requiring adult passengers to fasten their seat belts, and not properly using the “central lock” or “child lock” on the car doors.

Lee pointed out that if a similar accident occurred while driving on a highway or busy road, passengers who fall out of the car may be hit by the car behind them, resulting in serious consequences. He estimates that the two children and the foreign domestic helper who fell out of the car in this incident were fortunate to only sustain minor injuries as they were not hit by other cars. He believes that this accident serves as a good reminder to parents and other drivers to properly secure young children in the car using a child safety seat or basket, even if the child is slightly older. Lee said that the driver may have been negligent. Children should not be allowed to sit alone in a car seat or in the front passenger seat. It is estimated that the private car involved in the incident did not have a child safety seat or seat belt installed, or that the two children were not secured with seat belts, which resulted in their falling out of the car.

Lee suggests that if a child is under one year old, a child safety basket designed for use in cars should be used. Such baskets can be connected to the car’s seat belt or a specific device, and the safety belt on the basket should be fastened securely before placing the infant inside. For other children who are unable to sit properly on their own and those under the age of 12, a child safety seat should be used, and the seat belt on the safety seat should also be fastened securely. Lee advises that the use of a safety basket or seat should be determined by the child’s body size, with two- or three-year-old children using a basket or seat based on their size, and five- or six-year-old children using a child safety seat or belt to avoid the risk of injury to the head or neck in the event of a collision.

He emphasises the importance of wearing seat belts while driving, stating that securing the seat belt can prevent passengers from falling out of the car during an accident.

Lee also stresses the importance of locking car doors while driving, regardless of whether children are present in the car. Most cars are equipped with a “central lock” system that locks all doors except the driver’s door during driving, and even older cars have a “child lock” system that locks the rear doors from the inside, making them inaccessible to passengers until the car is stopped. Lee estimates that the driver in this incident failed to lock the central or child lock, which allowed the children to open the door and fall out of the car.

According to the Road Users Code published by the Transport Department, Chapter 5 “Essential Knowledge for All Drivers”, children under the age of 3 must use an approved child restraint device when seated in the front seat of a private car, private light bus or goods vehicle. If such a device is also present in the rear seats of a private car, children seated in those seats must also comply with this requirement. Children aged 3 or above travelling in a private car should also use a child restraint device to enhance their safety. In the absence of such a device, these child passengers must use a regular seat belt for protection.