UAE: Despite Dh400 fine, 1 in 3 parents do not own proper car safety seats for their children – Khaleej Times

Fri, Apr 05, 2024 | Ramadan 26, 1445
Published: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 3:20 PM
Last updated: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 5:05 PM
An alarming percentage of parents in the UAE do not own proper car safety seats for their children, according to a recent survey commissioned by RoadSafetyUAE and a German car seats and stroller company.
One out of three or 33 per cent of those surveyed do not own the proper child restraint system, although most respondents (94 per cent) do understand the protective powers of car safety seats.
“Lack of ownership, usage and knowledge remain a key issue of road safety,” RoadSafetyUAE and Cybex said in a statement on Thursday.
They noted the main reasons are lack of knowledge of which system to buy (26 per cent), kids do not like to be strapped in (26 per cent) and the perceived high price (26 per cent) of car seats for children.
In the UAE, all passengers in a car are required to wear seat belts including those sitting in the rear seat, failing which the driver of the vehicle will be fined Dh400 and slapped with four black points.
Children up to four years of age must be provided with a child safety seat. Violators will be fined Dh400 and slapped with four black points.
The front seat passenger should also be at least 145 cm tall and not younger than 10 years old.
According to RoadSafety UAE, if a child uses an adult seatbelt before he is tall enough, the lap part of the belt sits too high on his stomach. In a crash this could damage his internal organs. There is also a risk of the child slipping under the seatbelt.
Studies show that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death or serious injuries by 40 to 65 per cent on the front seats and for children who are properly buckled up in child seats, this figure goes up to 80 per cent.
An infant car seat, for instance, is designed to protect a baby in the event of a crash by forming a protective cocoon. New born seats are placed facing rearward so that a child will be pushed in to the seat on front-impact and the shell and inlay protect the spine and vital parts of the child. The higher sides next to the child’s head form a ‘side impact protection system’ in the event of a side collision and avoid the child’s head to move too much.
The seats belts also restrain the child during the trip. They also strap the child into the safest position and hold it there in the event of a rear or side impact, just like the seat belts for adults.
RoadSafetyUAE and Cybex, however, noted the lack of use of proper car child seats remains a key issue of road safety in the country.
Irfan Porbanderwalla, CEO of Cybex – India, Middle East & Africa, noted: “The introduction of the holistic seat belt law in 2017 was a milestone, as it mandates the use of child seats for children aged 0-4 years.
“However, analysing data of the parents’ behaviour shows little improvement with regards to child seat ownership and usage before and after the law’s introduction. We teamed up with RoadSafetyUAE to address the strategic gaps which in our opinion are to ensure proper hospital new-born discharge procedures, and to start the parents’ education as early as possible, already in the pre-natal phase and also via kindergartens and schools.”
“We co-commissioned three waves of YouGov research and the issues of non-ownership and non-usage of child restraint systems remain a challenge which needs to be tackled by the stakeholders in charge. We are aiming to build a road map to make sure that we will see more children in the UAE in proper child car seats, just as the law mandates. It is about protecting our children, but also about instilling safety habits with them as early in their lives as possible. Once children are used to wear a seat belt, this good habit will stay with them,” added Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE .
Another issue pointed out by RoadSafety and Cybex is that “among the owners of child restraint systems, only 71 per cent ‘always’ ask their kids to buckle up. The main reasons for non-usage are claimed to be that kids do not like to be strapped in (36 per cent); on short trips there is no need to buckle up kids (34 per cent) and the perceived safe driving, hence no need to buckle up children (27 per cent).
Edelmann said: “We are a platform for like-minded road safety stakeholders and we will work with Cybex and other parties in the public and private space to join forces and to improve both ownership and usage of child restraint systems in cars.”
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