x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Moaning child better than alternative

Zainab Tamimi is one of the few parents in the country who chooses to use proper child car restraints.

ABU DHABI // Zainab Habib makes no exceptions when it comes to properly restraining her children in the car.

"When I drive, anything can happen," she said. "The child can jump from the window or there could be a terrible accident. Anything is possible."

Mrs Habib's three older children were in car seats until they reached the age of 5, after which she required them to wear seat belts. Today, she still straps her fourth child, 4-year-old Meena Tamimi, in a car seat.

"If I have to use a vehicle without a child seat, then I make sure that the seat belt is strapped tightly," she said. "Sometimes the girls complain that the seat belt is too tight, but I tell them it's staying put until we reach our destination."

Mrs Habib, an Iraqi-Scot, said a lack of commitment by parents to place their children in the appropriate restraints is due to sheer laziness. "Parents are well aware of the dangers and risks," she said. "But they're looking for peace of mind; they don't want to put up with the headache of their complaining children."

Little do they know, Mrs Habib said, that complaining children are better than the alternative should there be a serious accident.

The elementary schoolteacher partially attributes her commitment to time spent in the UK, where there is no tolerance for motorists who break the law. "They are extremely strict there," she said. "Fines are very high, and your car and licence can be confiscated for two or three years. Drivers are also educated and understand the risks."

The new law, Mrs Habib said, would make all the difference. "Especially now when people are careful about where their money is going," she said.

However, she also said the new law is not just about the penalties; an educational component is also needed. "Not so much about the dangers, because parents are well aware of them," she said. "But more on the techniques to distract their children and allow them to accept the car seats."

mismail@thenational.ae