x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Drivers welcome move to buckle up in the back seat

People say the law that came into force this month was welcome and one police force has revealed statistics to show it is enforcing the updated traffic law. 

Parents have applauded a change in the UAE traffic laws which penalises drivers if their passengers are not wearing seat belts and if children are not sitting in child seats. Pawan Singh / The National
Parents have applauded a change in the UAE traffic laws which penalises drivers if their passengers are not wearing seat belts and if children are not sitting in child seats. Pawan Singh / The National

UAE residents have welcomed the introduction of new traffic laws that fine anyone without a seatbelt on in the back of a car and are pleased to hear it’s being enforced.

Any back-seat passenger seen by police without a seatbelt on could end up landing their driver with a Dh400 fine and four black points, and children under 4 must be in a child car seat. Before July 1 the law only dictated that people in the front seats must buckle up.

Police in Ras Al Khaimah have released figures for the number of fines issued in the first week since the new law came into force. Out of 1,600 traffic fines issued overall, 183 drivers were fined for not using a seatbelt themselves and 48 were fined due to their passengers not wearing one.

The hope is proper enforcement of the law will lead to more people wearing seatbelts.

“It’s the change that I was looking forward to seeing on the streets,” said Ola Sultan, an Emirati mother of two from RAK.

“I used to go crazy when I noticed a child sitting in the back seat without a child seat or even a seatbelt - I just pray for Allah to keep him safe.”

The 31-year-old said she refuses to drive unless her children are buckled up in their seats.

“It’s really dangerous and I can’t sacrifice losing one of my children. I can control myself while driving, but I don’t have any control over others and that is an issue,” said Ms Sultan.

“Now I see more people using the child seat and I’m extremely happy, hoping that more and more people would use them not only because they will be fined if they don’t but also to keep their children safe, as it’s our duty to do so.

“The new rules are there to keep us safe.”

Another resident said adhering to the new rules might take time.

“Change is not easy and following new rules could take time. In my opinion the amount of fines should be higher but it’s a good start,” said Mohammed Al Wahi, from Sudan.

“I also suggest they police smoking in cars when there are kids in the car. For me, I don’t have children but I feel sad when I see a child sitting in the car next to a smoker.”

RAK Police said it has ongoing awareness campaigns in relation to the new rules.

Brig Mohammed Al Humaidi, director general of central operations, said that more traffic patrols were on the streets to enforce the law.

His force has handed out booklets and arranged a number of workshops to reach the public, as well as using its social media channels and SMS services.

“The awareness campaigns running throughout the year has also helped in reducing the road accidents rate this year compared to 2016,” Brig Al Humaidi said.

The number of traffic accidents in RAK dropped by 35.8 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. There were 162 accidents in that period last year compared to 104 this year.