In Qatar, parents often make the mistake of letting their child sit on the passenger seat or place them in the back of the vehicle -- but without seatbelts. Doing so is extremely dangerous for children and, because of such carelessness, they're liable to be badly injured or even worse in the event of an accident.
Safety seats are the best method of protection for children. But awareness and education are also key, with data showing knowledge of the utility of seatbelts and safety seats has resulted in less injuries and fatalities.
It's illegal in Qatar not to wear seatbelts, and global statistics show drivers and passengers ages 17-34 are least likely to put on seatbelts and also have the highest accident rate. Studies have also shown those undertaking trips on short or familiar journeys are less likely to wear seatbelts, putting them at risk.
According to Shameem Ahmed, Program Coordinator, Rumailah Hospital Child Development Center: “Road traffic vehicle accidents are the major cause of death among children ages one year to 13 years of age. Placing children in proper safety car-seats in the back seats of vehicles minimizes the risk of injury to the head, neck, and spine.”
There are different types of safety seats designed according to a child's age and size and are to be placed on the rear seat. For example, infant seats (until the age of one) where the baby faces backwards, toddler seats for those ages four and below, and booster seats for kids weighing 18 kg up to 36 kg.
(Image credit: healthychildren)
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, there are a few tips to follow when making sure you're using the seatbelt correctly to protect your child in the car.
1. Safety Belt Fit Test:
• Check knees and feet - Your child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when his/her back and bottom are against the back of the vehicle's seat. Their feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.
• Check the lap belt - The vehicle lap belt must fit snugly across the hips or upper thighs.
• Check the shoulder belt - The shoulder belt must fit across the shoulder and chest, NOT across the face or neck
2. If your child doesn’t pass the test, keep him/her in a booster seat until he/she does.
3. Remember, just because the seatbelt fits your child in one car doesn’t mean the seatbelt will fit in all cars. Do the Seat Belt Fit Test in every car before permanently moving from the booster seat to a seatbelt alone.
4. Be a good example. We know that when adults wear seatbelts, kids wear seatbelts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
Road traffic injuries are one of the main causes of premature mortality in Qatar. Specially, young Qatari males are at high risk of dying from a road traffic accident. Although there is no exact information available showing how many passengers and driver wear seat belts on a regular basis, however, it is broadly trusted that low seat belt compliance is a significant issue in the number of deaths due to road traffic accidents.
To address the issue of road safety, Qatari government is working hard to cut down on road accidents and is enforcing strict traffic laws. For example, fines for placing infants under 10 years-old on the front seat is QR 500 and not fastening the seatbelt while driving for both the driver and front passenger is QR 500.
Do you make sure that everyone in your vehicle is buckled up at all times? Tell us your thoughts on seatbelt use and safety in Qatar in the comments below and don't forget to like and share this article to stay informed!
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