Road safety experts are urging drivers to pay more attention and to avoid overreliance on sensors when reversing or parking motor vehicles in the United Arab Emirates.
The calls come following an accident in which an 18-month-old boy was killed by a reversing car in Dibba, Fujairah.
RoadsLink and Eco-Drive development manager Ian Littlefield says that people’s reliance on technologies such as sensors and cameras has replaced simple observation and resulted in them becoming complacent.
On Monday, Littlefield admitted to the Khaleej Times that gadgets are not infallible and that the sensors and cameras can sometimes miss a small child.
Drivers are responsible for the safety of road users, not gadgets, and relying too much on them is to abandon responsibility, Littlefield claims.
Two children and an Asian man have been killed in reversing accidents in the UAE in just the last month.
These sensors work by measuring the distances between the car and nearby objects that are positioned either in front of or behind the vehicle.
Acoustic pulses are sent out to warn drivers.
However, drivers still need to physically look at the area around the car before they reverse and not just use the sensors alone, according to road safety experts.
Extra care needs to be taken to avoid hitting pets and children when reversing cars in residential areas, with children often playing near or even under parked vehicles, and kittens and puppies enjoying the warmth of vehicles, says Littlefield.
Children are unpredictable and very vulnerable, and checking surroundings needs to be meticulous.
RoadSafetyUAE’s managing director and founder Thomas Edelmann says that accidents can always be prevented and that parents have the biggest role to play when it comes to preventing accidents involving children.
He says that there is nothing constructive in solely blaming drivers when it is the job of parents to ensure that very young children in particular are not playing unsupervised near parked vehicles.
Edelmann adds that a major priority should be given to increasing awareness on the issue of road safety, with UAE schools offering a comprehensive and powerful curriculum on traffic education to raise awareness in pre-school or kindergarten.
Children should be instilled with the correct road safety habits as soon as possible, Edelmann claims.
One safety tip for drivers is to be extra vigilant and watch out for children, other drivers and pedestrians when parking and to scan all areas properly when reversing.
Drivers need to be respectful of and polite to other motorists who are also trying to find a place to park and be mindful about blocking other vehicles when parking.
Drivers need to take their time and go slow, not allowing themselves to be rushed by other people, and even winding windows down to allow them to hear outside sounds.
It is also a legal obligation for drivers to have at least some form of basic car insurance before operating a motor vehicle in the UAE – this will prevent financial hardship in the event of accident or theft.