x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai toddlers tune in to the ‘buckle up in the back’ safety message

Lesley Cully, the founder of the 'Buckle Up in the Back' campaign, visits nurseries to get the message to parents through their children.

Lesley Cully, who runs the
Lesley Cully, who runs the "Buckle Up in the Back" campaign, teaches toddlers at the Dovecote Nursery in Dubai about the importance of wearing their seat belts. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Toddlers at Dovecote Nursery were yesterday taught a little song to help drive home the importance of buckling up in the back seat.

Lesley Cully, the founder of the “Buckle Up In The Back” campaign, visits nurseries to get the message to parents through their children.

And after every session Ms Cully hands the children a bag with stickers and posters and teaches them a song to reinforce the message.

“Use your seat belt in the car, buckle up,” she sings. “Doesn’t matter near or far, buckle up.”

She said that parents “take better care of the eggs they buy than their children sometimes”.

And to emphasise the fact, she told the Jumeirah nursery’s three-year-olds while shaking a box of eggs: “A car is like an empty box. All that shaking, like when you go to the desert, can be dangerous if you are not wearing a seat belt.”

Ms Cully has been running her campaign since 2010 and has spoken to more than 36,000 parents, schoolchildren and university children.

“The message is for everybody – even adults,” she said. “But I target children because they are the road to awareness. They have great ‘pester power’. If they tell the parents they need to buckle up, they will listen.”

Child fatalities in car crashes could be reduced by 63 per cent if back-seatbelt laws were in place, she said.

“Most people say the only reason they wear a belt in the front is because it is the law,” she said, adding: “Many parents think it is unnecessary to wear a seat belt at the back because it is safer. It isn’t, especially if there is a high-impact crash and those behind are thrown from their seats.”

Mena Press, the manager at Dovecote Nursery, said she approached the buckle-up campaign after witnessing irresponsible behaviour during pick-up hours.

“Usually, we have drivers picking up the children and they do not ask the children to wear the seat belt,” she said.

“Also, some of them drive with the child on their lap.
“I blame the parents for not telling their drivers how important it is that the children be strapped in or ensuring they sit in a car seat.”

Ms Press said she personally tells off drivers, but it was necessary for parents to be educated too.

“Children can effectively pass on the safety information. What they learn now also makes them more responsible adults in the future,” she said. “We will also be sending out newsletters to parents.”

aahmed@thenational.ae