Despite an increasing number of road-safety education campaigns, it is still disturbingly common to see mothers holding their infants and toddlers unrestrained in the front seat of cars and of young children roaming freely around inside the vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that many parents in the UAE buckle up themselves but do not ensure that their children are safely strapped in when they travel.
This issue has been a topic for debate and discussion for years. Since 2012, the Ministry of Interior has repeatedly called for child car restraints to be mandatory in a bid to reduce the number of children killed or hurt in traffic accidents. As The National reported yesterday, it seems these efforts will finally translate into actions, with the issue being discussed seriously at federal level and with a compulsory law for child car seats likely to come into effect early next year.
This is certainly a welcome step. Child car seats are a legal requirement in many parts of the world, including Europe and North America. No newborn should be allowed to leave the hospital without a proper car seat and enforcing this law throughout a child’s early years will have a big impact on enhancing their safety.
Although traffic accidents have been identified as the leading cause of death for children under 14, as Road Safety UAE website founder Thomas Edelmann recounted, many parents still fail to realise the role that child car seats play in preventing injuries and death. Even some of those who have installed child car seats either fail to use them correctly or use a seat inappropriate to the age of the child, leading to serious injuries.
Education programmes must continue to ensure that parents are aware of the possible consequences of not following the child-seat law, when it comes into force. Parents of young children must never surrender to their children’s resistance to buckle up and must teach them how to behave properly inside the car. A mandatory child seat law will play a major role in changing the driving culture, preventing many tragedies.