Buckle Up – By Law

Did you know that UAE law makes seat belts and car seats mandatory in all moving vehicles? But there’s more we need to know, share and instill in our children to make this country’s roads a safer place. 

Road traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for children under 14 in the UAE. And any mother who’s looked around a car park on the school run will find that fact unsurprising, as we regularly witness children jumping out of their seats and rattling around cars setting off at speed.

Since July 1st 2017, seat belts are legally required to be worn by all passengers in any moving vehicle, and appropriate car seats used by children up to the age of four.

The official law change means that any driver carrying unrestrained passengers will face fines of AED 400, plus four black points, in a much-celebrated, and long-awaited move by Dubai Police.

In the UK child car seats are mandatory for children up to 12 years old or 135cm in height and new models of backless booster seat are not permitted. If a driver is caught travelling with an unrestrained child – or child not using the appropriate seat for its height and weight – they can expect a fine of £500.

Leading By Example 

One local campaigner clapping his hands alongside us is Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE. The initiative began in 2014, and Thomas and his team have since worked tirelessly to educate and communicate with drivers and passengers about the steps they need to take to help save lives.

And which group will be the most influential in making seat belts and car seats a non-negotiable part of every car trip? Parents – without question.

“I am a father and, in my experience, kids don’t mind at all about being strapped in!” says Thomas. “Parents must lead by example, meaning they buckle up on every single trip. With this behaviour, we instill good habits in our children, which will never go away.”

Get Car Seat Savvy

Even parents purchasing the very best car safety products on the market, can still be putting their children at risk, as statistics show that more than 35% of car seats are installed incorrectly.

Thomas has given British Mums this checklist of points to consider when it comes to carrying our most precious cargo.

Expert Advice – Read the instruction manual for your car seat thoroughly – don’t ever try to install it by guessing. Good baby specialist stores, such as JustKidding, also have dedicated, trained staff to assist with installation.

Back Seat Is Best – Position your child’s car seat in the back. This is the safest location in the car for a child to ride.

Know Your Car Read the relevant section in your car’s safety manual. Some cars have lower anchors built into seats that can be used to attach a child safety seat. Older cars may not have these, and will require seat belts to secure the seat.

Is It a Fit? Once installed, a car seat should not be able to move back, forth or side to side more than one inch. The child should also be snug inside the harness, with chest clips fastened at armpit level.

Lay It Flat Make sure your car seat is completely flat against the seat below and behind it (for forward-facing seats). Use your hands to push it down as hard as you can or, better yet, place your knee on the car seat and push with all your weight to squash the air out of the cushion underneath it.

Lock The Seat BeltIf your vehicle doesn’t have lower anchors, refer to your car’s manual to find out how to lock a seat belt once it is in place.

Adjust The AngleFor rear-facing seats, it is important that the base of your car seat is level to prevent your child’s head from flopping forward. Most seats will have indicators on the side to help.

Connect The Tether StrapForward-facing seats have an extra strap at the top, as an added safety measure. Double-check your vehicle and attach and tighten the tether strap to prevent head movement in the event of a crash.

Rear Facing For Longer Infant carriers categorised as Group 0 (for birth to 10kg approx) and 0+ (for birth to 13kg approx) and Group 1 (for 9kg to 18kg approx) car seats are designed to be safest when rear-facing, so that a child will be forced towards the seat on front impact. In the UK, your child must legally sit rear-facing until they are 15 months old, although many other European countries require children to stay rear-facing until they are four years old and/or 18kg in weight.

Written by British mum Sarah Dufton- Walker

For more information and to support the ongoing campaign for road safety in the UAE, visit www.roadsafetyuae.com

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