BUCKLE UP YOUR BABIES
The experts agree: The safest place for a child in a car is in a properly fitted seat. Here’s our guide to choosing the right one
It’s a lovely day out, the sun’s shining and your family’s heading out on a road trip – you’ve stocked up on food, extra clothes, sing-along songs and water – everything you need to keep your kids engaged and happy. But does your car have the one thing that can protect them in the event of a crash – a child car seat?
Starting July 1, if you haven’t already, you will have to add a car seat to your list. That’s when the new seat belt law issued by the Ministry of Interior comes into effect. Not only will all backseat passengers have to buckle up, but it will be mandatory for all children under four to be strapped into child car seats. Children under 10 must be in the backseat, with seatbelts.
The biggest benefit of this law, says Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)
‘They’re NOT BIG ENOUGH to fit a regular seat and there will be a gap between their shoulders and the seat belt. In the event of SUDDEN braking, there is a good chance that the child will FLY through the gap’
is ‘ensuring the safety of children.’ Statistics released by Dubai Police reveal that 105 children were injured in road accidents in 2016; if good road safety practices haven’t nudged you into buckling up the kids, this worrying number of causalities should.
Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE (RSU) tells Friday how, of 454 parents RSU surveyed, only 66 per cent used child seats and booster seats. Not all of them remind their children to fasten the restraints.
This is a dangerous practice, the RTA told Friday: ‘Child restraints are designed to reduce injury. Wearing a properly adjustable lap and shoulder seat belt reduces the risk of [injury from] a serious or fatal accident by 50 per cent.’ So why did that 34 per cent of parents surveyed by the RSU skip using car seats? Because they found them too expensive – or their kids didn’t like to be strapped in.
Oxana Kim, mum to two-year-old twins Mark and Klim and one-year-old Elizaveta doesn’t think children should have a say in the matter. ‘Some things you cannot negotiate with the kids. Whenever it comes to safety and security, they have to obey and follow the rules because we are the parents and they have to follow us.’ When her entire family travels, it’s a tight squeeze in the car with three kids and three adults but even then Oxana ensures they’re all in car seats.
Jenny Holser, mum of one-year-old Alexandra, doesn’t think restlessness is a valid excuse. ‘There’s never any excuse not to put your kid in a car seat. When [Alexandra] was teeny-tiny she didn’t care. When she got a bit older she didn’t like being in it. But she’ll be in a car seat until the age of eight or nine.’
Ideally, kids should be in car seats until age 12 (or a height of 145cm), explains Nisar Goar, Babyshop’s head buyer. ‘Until then, they’re not big enough to fit a regular seat and there will be a large gap between their shoulders and the seat belt, which means in the event of sudden braking there is a good chance that the child will fly through the gap.’
Parental love might drive you to believe that there is no safer place in the car for your children than your lap or arms, but research proves that it is, in fact, the most dangerous
place for them in a moving vehicle, even if the adult is belted in, explains Thomas.
‘Your child could be ripped from your arms by the force of a collision. Your weight could crush your child to death – at the speed of just 55 km/h, the relative weight of your child in an accident equals that of an elephant; you won’t be able to hold on. Also, airbags are not constructed for kids and their force can cause serious injury and death to kids on our laps.’
Simply, your children are the safest they can be in a vehicle when strapped into appropriate car seats.
‘Car seats are specifically designed to fit smaller bodies of children [and] restrain the child without applying dangerous force to the body,’ the RTA says.
That said, a lot of parents – 25 per cent according to the RSU’s survey – don’t know which child seat or booster cushion to buy. There are hundreds of varieties with numerous features, making it a challenge for new parents. Babyshop’s Nisar, who has been buying for the Dubai-based company for decades, helped us put car seat selection into a simple, easy-to-understand guide.