x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Push for all residents to have child car seats gains ground

Taxis at Dubai Airport will have child seats available upon request and the Health Authority Abu Dhabi has plans to give away more than 2,000 devices in the coming year.

ABU DHABI // The push to make child-safety car seats available to all residents has gained momentum.

The Dubai Taxi Corporation has added child seats to airport taxis and the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (Haad) plans to give away 2,400 of them in the coming year.

A federal law that would prosecute motorists who do not properly restrain their children has yet to be passed, despite officials initially believing it would be introduced by the end of the year.

Brig Gen Ghaith Al Zaabi, director general of traffic co-ordination at the Ministry of Interior, said the proposal was still with the ministry and a number of authorities had been consulted. "It's still under review and I hope it will come in next year," he said.

Maj Gen Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, deputy commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, this week said police would consider a study on mandatory child-safety seats.

"We will try to do something on that and inform drivers on the dangers," Gen Al Mazeina said.

In June, a seven-month-old girl was killed while sitting on her mother's lap in the front seat of a car driven by her father.

The mother said in testimony that she was propelled into the windshield of the car while holding the infant. It was the third child traffic death in Dubai this year, prosecution records show.

The Dubai Health Authority says 63 per cent of crash victims in the emirate are children.

Dubai Taxi has a number of child-safety seats at the airport, available to passengers who request them.

"We decided to provide for people who were arriving at the airport from different parts of the world and different cultures who are used to these standards," said Abdul Aziz Malik, an adviser at Dubai Taxi.

The service is only available at the airport and the Roads and Transport Authority has no immediate plans to expand it to city taxis.

There was a push by hospitals last year to have child-safety seats installed in vehicles.

Dr Jens Thomsen, the head of occupational and environmental health at Haad, said the agency would launch a campaign next year giving out child seats.

"Some hospitals were doing it themselves and we supported and endorsed it," Dr Thomsen said, adding Haad had decided to take up the initiative. "We are not just giving away the seats. There is a whole programme and nurses have been trained up in maternity hospitals."

A five-day child-passenger safety course was presented by Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network that works to prevent young deaths.

Fifteen people from agencies including Haad, Abu Dhabi Police and the Ministry of Social Affairs, have been trained as child-passenger safety technicians.

To receive their certificates, participants had to know the different types of car seats and which brands best matched different vehicles.

"We had to know the inside and outside of car seats and be ready to educate people to have the right amount of information," said Reem Al Meria, a senior officer of health promotions at Haad, who has done the course.

eharnan@thenational.ae