Car seats for children should be a habit

People need to get into the habit of putting their children in a car safety seat correctly every time they go for a ride, parents say.

ABU DHABI // People must get into the habit of putting their children in a car safety seat correctly every time they go for a ride.

“Many just don’t do it,” said Niki Morrison, 31, from England. “People have got money to buy them here.”

Toddlers are unrestrained in the front seat of cars, others are roaming freely in the vehicles. It is not unusual to see parents lifting their children through the sunroof or dangling them out of windows.

“I see them all the time,” Mrs Morrison said. “A lot of my friends are from the UK and we all use child car seats.”

Child safety seats are mandatory in Europe and North America.

The four main types of child restraint systems are infant carriers up to 12 months old, a child seat for nine months to four years, a booster seat for four to six years and a booster cushion for six to 11 years.

“I’m surprised that we have a law on seatbelt use for adults, but not on car seats for children,” Mrs Morrison said.

She always keeps her three children – Ara, 4, Alex, 19 months and Rosa, two weeks old – restrained.

The issue has been under debate for years. Since 2012, the Ministry of Interior has repeatedly called for child car restraints to be mandatory in an attempt to reduce the number of children killed or hurt in traffic accidents.

In March this year, the introduction of a compulsory child-seat law was discussed at federal level.

Corniche Hospital and other entities often distribute car seats to the families of newborns at no cost.

A Maxi Cosi car seat, which has a reclining system and a five-point harness, costs a minimum of Dh999 and a maximum of Dh1,695. A Fisher Price car seat costs between Dh395 and Dh410, Graco brand prices range from Dh540 to Dh899, while the Italian brand Peg Perego costs Dh310.

Hussain Al Banna, of the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai, said child seats would be made mandatory “in the very near future” .

“This will be a huge boost to our sales,” said a Filipino shop staff member who sells about four to five booster and car seats a day. “Many are budget-conscious, while others look for quality and comfort.”

Amina Melham, 32, recently bought a car seat for her son Ammar, who is three months old.

“It’s very important for my baby’s safety, especially for long rides,” she said.

“My husband often tells me I can hold him and let him sit on my lap when we’re travelling a short distance, but I always insist that he is strapped into a car seat.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: June 30, 2014 04:00 AM

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