Dubai steps up efforts to protect young travellers

How often have you spotted cars where little kids are not buckled up?

They are either standing behind the driver’s seat or sticking their tiny bodies in the gap between the front seats.

And, the adults who accompany them, appear ignorant of the serious harm such actions can cause to their kids.

Some, in fact, believe that cradling their child on their lap is more secure than strapping them in a car seat.

The statistics, however, paint a different reality.

“63 per cent of all child deaths in the UAE are caused by road accidents. That’s three times higher than the global average,” asserted Lesley Cully, who started the Buckle Up In The Back campaign in May 2010.

The issue has come under the scanner, yet again, after the recent road crash on Truck Road in Al Faya left three kids injured and their mother dead.

The Ministry of Interior then urged parents to use child car seats to prevent such injuries.

As per the present law, children aren’t allowed to travel in the front passenger seat.

Efforts are underway to formulate a new law that will make child seats in the rear mandatory.

“There have been a lot of recommendations over the last two years,” highlights Lesley. And adds that it isn’t just about formulating a law. “The key is to enforce it,” she stressed.

Lesley has also been instrumental in campaigning in numerous schools across the UAE.

“I do visit at least three schools or nurseries in a week. It is encouraging when schools invite me back because they are conscious of the change it can bring about.”

Buckling up, she insisted, is the just basic protection we can offer our children. “This needs to be an everyday exercise."

While some Dubai hospitals have been distributing free car seats to new-borns, Lesley feels this is unproductive unless they create awareness about its importance.

“Anyone will take anything that is given free. If it has to make a difference, they must educate the parents about it. And, that process needs to start much before the baby is born.”

The Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) already has a campaign in place, where residents using taxis can request for car seats. They have dedicated 50 taxis with child seats for a special rate.

“Fifty child seats have been issued by DTC, along with Babyshop. With special emphasis extended at the Dubai airport for ‘Ladies Taxi’ and ‘Family Taxi’ services,” Mansoor R Al Falasi, acting CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation had explained.

These efforts are just a few that Dubai, its residents and local organisations have taken on.

Emirates 24|7 readers added that it's disheartening to see parents being irresponsible with the safety of their children.

“I often see kids playing in the back, or sticking their heads out of the window. Surely their parents are aware than even a minor slip-up on the road could harm their children,” voiced a motorist.

“People are so conscious while buying cars, and check whether it has airbags, safety ratings and all other such aspects, but ignore the dangers of driving with a child who is not strapped in properly,” added another.

The solution, some feel, is to impose fines. "Rules should be created and violators should be fined. Campaigns alone cannot solve this situation, only when they are penalised will they learn.”

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