UAE has some of the best-planned urban road structures in the world. From the six wide lanes of Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai to the twisting road leading all the up to Jebal Hafeet in Al Ain, the government has ensured that every road built in the country fulfills all the safety measures and criteria for the driver and the passengers. UAE is one of those countries in the Middle East where traffic regulations are enforced very seriously by the government and no free pass is given to any traffic rules violator.
In light of the strict traffic rules implementation and the use of modern technology in order to monitor the traffic being used in all of the Emirates, the road safety regulations related to children’s safety on the road are also very firm. Studies have indicated that the use of children’s car safety measures such as using the child lock and baby seat has enormously helped in preventing the children from serious injuries in road accidents.
This guide will cover all the child safety-related rules that are mandatory to be abiding by while driving in UAE along with some general statistics regarding road accidents due to compromised child safety incidents that occurred in UAE.
Ministerial Regulations for Children Road Safety in UAE
According to the Ministerial Resolution no. 178 of 2017 released by the UAE government on traffic control rules includes the following clauses on children road safety:
- From 1st July 2017, ‘holistic seat belt law’ was introduced in UAE according to which every passenger in the car should wear the seat belt even the ones sitting on the back seat of the car. This includes children and infants’ too. Non-compliance of doing so will result in a fine worth AED 400, plus four black points on the driver’s license.
- It is mandatory for children less than four years of age to be seated on the child safety seat buckled in the back seat of the car. Non-compliance will result in a compulsory fine of AED 400 with four black points on the driver’s license.
- Children younger than ten years of age and shorter than 145cm should not be seated on the front passenger seat in the car.
- The child safety car seat should comply with the UAE standards and must be purchased from an authorized vendor from the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA).
Children Road Safety Statistics in UAE
- 34% of parents in the UAE do not possess the approved child restraint system
- Out of all the parents in UAE who do have the child restraint system, only 70% of them use it regularly.
- 29% of parents in the UAE believe that the child restraint system is too expensive to afford therefore they do not use it.
- 28% of parents reported that the child does not feel comfortable strapped in the seat belt or the child safety seat.
- 25% of parents do not have the appropriate knowledge or awareness on which child safety seat to use for their children.
- 37% of parents have reportedly claimed that child safety seats or seat belts are not mandatory for short trips ranging from 5 to 10kms.
- 26% of the parents claim to be good drivers; therefore, they do not consider it essential to use a seat belt or child safety seats for their children.
** Source: www.government.ae
The Right Way To Implement Child Safety On The Roads in UAE
The government of UAE has listed out child safety measures with detailed clarifications on the appropriate way to implement it in the car so that utmost child safety can be ensured on the roads. It includes the following parameters to be precisely followed:
- Weight-based Car Seats
All the young children in the car should be made seated in a rear-facing car seat. This is mandatory until the baby weighs more than 9kg. A new child safety seat should be immediately bought in as soon as the baby’s head comes in level with the height of the headrest of the safety seat. When the baby’s weight reaches 15kg, a child booster can be used to replace the child with the safety seat. In the same way, when the baby starts to weigh 25kg, a booster cushion is permissible to be used for the baby.
- Height-based Car Seats
The Emirates Authority of Standardization and Metrology has approved the height-based car safety seats also known as I-size seats. These I-size seats can only be installed in the cars which have the Isofix points. With these kinds of seats also, the baby must be seated rear-facing unless the baby is over 15 months old. After that, I-size can be used which is appropriate for the height of the baby. However, the parents must ensure that a rear-facing seat should never be placed on the front seat in the car, particularly if the car has an active airbag system installed in it.
- Car seat groups
The authorized vendors in the UAE have different categories of car safety seats for the children that are suitable for age groups and heights of the babies. All the approved vendors have child safety seats as per the European regulations 44.03/44.04 and .03/.04 mentioned them. This ensures that the child safety seat is original and in compliance with the regulations of the UAE government. For the I-size seats, the weight ranges might be different from manufacturer to manufacturer; however, the specifications of the safety seat must match with that of the UAE government’s regulations.
Safety Issues in Using the Adult Seat Belts for Children
Children using the adults’ seat belt who are under 145cm fail to achieve complete safety which comes with the seat belt. Due to their short height, the lower belt covers the stomach of the child in an inappropriate manner, which can cause serious injury to the internal organs of the child in case of an accident. In some cases, it has been seen that the child gets out of the grip of the safety belt during the crash because of being short in height to be secured properly by the seat belt.
Children Traffic & Road Safety Initiatives in UAE
The government of UAE in collaboration with the Emirates Driving Institute initiated a children’s traffic and road safety program to educate young children on road safety and responsibility. The mission of the program is to build a generation of young responsible residents by educating them at an early stage in their lives.
The traffic initiative named ‘Mama I am home’ is a multi-media customized program to educate children on road safety. Experienced traffic safety experts from the Dubai police carry out these traffic safety sessions in the schools all across the UAE. The sessions include animated movies and interactive learning methods to make it a fun learning program for the kids ensuring that they understand the traffic regulations while having fun. On the advanced stages of the programs, there are interactive activities and exercises for the kids where they are asked to act as pedestrians and car passengers to understand more about zebra crossings, traffic signal signs, cycling pavement, etc. Every module and exercise in the program is ten to fifteen minutes long so that the children don’t get overwhelmed with the teaching.
Emirates Driving School has also created special safety kits for all the children who attend the traffic safety program. Named as the ‘Mama I am home kits’, these kits are distributed among the children at the end of the program. The kit includes a coloring book with road safety signs, a manual on the seat belt and its importance, a pen drive with games, and a special toy car.
For three years, Emirates Driving School has completed the training of 300,000 school children in different schools all across the UAE. Apart from the traffic safety initiative, the government and Emirates Driving School also organize events such as ‘Mother Baby & Child Show’ for the best performing participants.