Demand and interest in child car seats has gone through the roof since it became a crime across the UAE to not buckle up in the back at the start of this month.
The number of people searching for car seats online has increased by 158 per cent in June and July, according to a study by AYA Technologies, Data Analytics and Market research agency in Dubai.
And the same study showed that retailers are taking advantage of the huge increase in interest by hiking prices by about 15 per cent.
On July 1 a new traffic law came into force that mandates that back-seat passengers must now wear a seatbelt, while children under four must be in a car seat or else drivers face a fine of Dh400. Before July 1 the law only dictated that people in the front seats must buckle up.
Ruban Shanmugarajah, the chief operating officer at Babyshop, said they have a seat for every parent, with prices starting at just Dh149.
“We have witnessed a significant surge in car seat purchases as well as overall consumer interest and awareness of the importance of child car-seats after the federal traffic law amendment was introduced,” he said.
“We offer a wide variety of car seats and booster seats suited to different age groups from infants to toddlers to young kids, with a starting price of Dh149, and we certainly aim to have full stock of all car seat products to make sure that all UAE residents are able to purchase the required products.”
Michelle Le Blanc, of JustKidding, also said that car seat sales have increased in July.
“Since the new traffic law on July 1, we witnessed a large increase in sales of our Mifold booster seat, which is a compact and lightweight booster designed for children aged four to 12 years old, while our prices start from Dh85 and could reach Dh1,399, depending on the child age group and brand.”
Child safety experts say that a car seat must be the right size and that they do not need to be expensive to be safe.
“Parents need to know the weight and height of their child and match it with that of the car seat. It also needs to fit the car as not all car seats are compatible with all cars, so the best way is to actually try it in the car before buying it and install it correctly,” said Dr Reem Al Ameria, a certified child passenger safety technician and instructor.
“A salesman should be able to help, while some brands already have a list on their website of compatible cars.
“It should also fit the parents’ budget. As long as the car seat meets a credible international standard, it should be safe. The other features all depend on preferences.”
Dr Al Ameria said that buying used car seats is not advised as the history of the seat is not known.
“In general, we don't recommend buying used car seats as it may have gone through an accident or be missing some parts and also for hygienic reasons,” she said.
“Some exceptions can be made for car seats borrowed from a close family member or friend, as long as you know the history of the car seat, but we still don't encourage that.
“As for buying online, the same rules apply but I would add that unless they have researched it very well to make sure it fills all the requirements mentioned, then they should not buy it and it is always better to check it in person first, if possible.”
Dr Al Ameria said she was pleased that the law was finally in force and that “we are finally able to save many little lives”.
“I was hoping it would be extended to older ages too, as seatbelts are made for adults, not children, and a child cannot fit properly into a seatbelt before he or she is 10 or 12 years old but it is surely a step forward,” she said.
“I also hope that there will be proper enforcement of this law otherwise it will be useless, like the previous law that stated that children under 10 are not allowed in the front seat.”
Michelle Le Blanc, the marketing and event manager for JustKidding children’s shops, said that seats should be checked regularly.
“More than 35 per cent of car seats are wrongly installed, so it’s important to have the seat checked up regularly by the retailer from whom you purchased it,” she said.
“Currently, there are no specific existing safety standards in the UAE yet when it comes to infant car seats, so it is wise to follow the most stringent standards available, as set by the United Nations with EN44-04 sticker approval.”