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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Parents need to buckle up to stop risking children’s safety

Statistics show there is a greater chance of surviving a car accident when wearing a belt

Road safety campaign in Abu Dhabi ahead of new laws being introduced to buckle up. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 
Road safety campaign in Abu Dhabi ahead of new laws being introduced to buckle up. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 

Most drivers who have negotiated the UAE’s roads will be familiar with one particularly troubling sight: children bouncing around on the back seat of the car in front, nestled in the lap of the front seat passenger or even, in some cases, sitting on the lap of the person behind the wheel. Spotting an unrestrained child is not the rarity it should be – so much so that Dubai Police felt compelled to send out a warning that “the back seat is the safest place for children to sit”. It is an indictment of the behaviour of some car owners that this even needs to be stated.

Sixty per cent of all deaths of children in Abu Dhabi are related to road accidents, recent figures have shown. Many were not wearing seatbelts when they were involved in collisions. Shockingly, a separate study carried out by UAE University in Al Ain in 2013 found only two per cent of passengers involved in accidents over a 17-month period were wearing seatbelts and not a single child restraint was used in any of the cars. The number of misdemeanours has dropped drastically since a law was introduced in July last year making it mandatory for passengers in the back to wear belts but there are still too many parents flouting the law and risking their children’s lives. At 120 kilometres per hour, a parent’s loving embrace is not going to be enough to stop a child from being flung through a windscreen or out of a vehicle. The risk of dying in a car accident is slashed by 60 per cent for those who buckle up in the back – yet last year, more than 7,600 drivers and passengers were caught without seatbelts in Abu Dhabi in the first two months of the law being introduced. Those parents who think they are showing their children affection by cuddling them in the front seat are putting their lives at risk. There can surely be no greater sign of love than taking a few extra seconds to buckle them up in the back and reducing the risk of them becoming just another statistic.