Two new research projects proposed by Hamad Medical Corp.’s trauma department have recently been awarded nearly $2 million in grant funding.
One of the areas of study will focus on workplace injuries and the other aims to promote and increase the use of child safety seats in cars in Qatar through a three-year initiative.
The grant comes from the National Priorities Research Program, part of Qatar Foundation’s National Research Fund.
The issue of whether to buckle up children in car seats is a hot topic among residents here. Some people are skeptical about their use, citing the costs involved in buying the seats or saying that their children don’t like to be restrained while in moving vehicles.
However, with 54 percent of all deaths among children under the age of four in Qatar due to traffic accidents, experts want to spread the message that kids should be strapped in for their own safety and the safety of others in the car.
Dr. Ruben Peralta is Director of the Trauma and Critical Care Fellowship Program and Lead Principal Investigator of the Young Kids in Safe Seats (Y-KISS) Qatar Project.
Having worked internationally for more than a decade as an advocate of road safety, he is quoted by the Qatar News Agency saying:
“Our preliminary research in Qatar showed that among our young victims of road trauma, serious injury and death only occurred in those who were not restrained.
The youngest road users in Qatar often bear the brunt of the decisions of parents and caregivers; it is high time that we prioritized the safety of our most precious cargo.”
Researchers will study knowledge, attitudes and practices of parents and caregivers of children under five to the use of car seats, and will aim to come up with the best means of increasing the use of safety seats through educational programs, Peralta added.
The Hamad Hospital team will collaborate with the Primary Health Care Corporation and Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health based in Baltimore, Maryland, US.
The other project – titled A Unified Registry for Workplace Injury Prevention in Qatar – will collect data on workplace injuries to help identify risk factors and reduce the number of accidents happening in the workplace.
Road traffic accidents and workplace injuries are the leading causes of injury in Qatar and the results of the two research projects will be used to design injury prevention programs, the Head of HMC’s Trauma Center Dr. Hassan al-Thani said.
Better car safety
Authorities in Qatar have been working for some time to encourage more residents to use child seats in cars.
Last summer, the Hamad Women’s Hospital ran a campaign to give out 7,000 baby car seats to the parents of newborns.
The initiative was a joint project between the government and Maersk Oil to improve mortality and injury rates on Qatar’s roads through the “One Second” campaign.
Though Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2011-2016 calls for providing mothers of newborns with car seats at the time of their discharge from the hospital, it is not illegal here for small children to ride in a vehicle unrestrained or on their mothers’ laps, a common sight on Doha roads.
However, children under the age of 10 are not allowed to travel in the front seat of a car. Still, young babies and children can often be seen cradled by their mother or nanny in the front passenger seat while being driven.
Although the HMC ran workshops last year on how to fit and use a child car seat, many parents given the free seat admitted they didn’t use it, as they weren’t sure how to install it.
At the end of last year, under the public safety campaign Kulluna (“all of us”) HMC announced it was training up to 100 volunteers as child car seat technicians and instructors to help spread the message about how to fit the seats and why they should be used.
Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, Senior Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Chairman of the Kulluna safety campaign, previously told Doha News of his experience of some of the severe consequences for unrestrained children in car accidents.
He said: “Fatalities are all from severe brain injuries in this age group, but we also see severe internal injuries, abdominal and chest, and fractures, spinal injuries.
Children can become a floating object in a car – we often use the word missile. It’s not only the impact of the crash itself, but the impact of that missile – the child – on the child’s body, particularly the brain. Those injuries can be, even for those that survive, devastating, not just for the child, but also the families.”
This topic goes around and around. Its high time that we cut through all the bs. Simple fact, an unrestrained child in a traffic accident will be killed. I don’t care what part of the world you are from but if you don’t believe it then you are either too stupid to drive or to have children. Don’t focus on trying to convince people to use the seats too much – just make it the law, no exceptions. Then, oh powers that be, just enforce the law. – No exceptions. I can appreciate that enforcing any traffic law here is a bit of an alien concept but there is no other way. This problem will only be solved through enforcement. If one has more children than ones Land Cruiser or Tida can take car seats, then buy a minibus or travel with less children. Perhaps, don’t have more children than one can afford to have.
How many times have I seen children sitting in the front of cars resting their heads on the airbag. An impact of 15kph can set the airbag off. It would be the same as me walking up and hitting the kid in the head with a bat. How many parents would allow me to do that – none I hope so why let them rest on the airbag.
I have a son and he did not like his car seat but after a few months he got used to it. He now climbs into the seat by himself and likes it as he can see out of the car.
Final point, get the adults to wear seat belts. If ones vehicle is travelling at 120kph then guess what, the occupants are travelling at 120kph. Without a restraint the steering wheel, dashboard, windscreen or a child on ones lap will be the restraint.
Have to agree, the only viable solution is to make use of child seats mandatory under passenger safety regulations.
Its not a solution because it wont be enforced. Make all the laws you like but if not enforced and the population is not law abiding then it is a waste of paper.
Agreed enforcement is key, however incorporating it in law would be the first step.
You are absolutely right, the first step is making it law. we know that the police are going to struggle to enforce this law, as they do with all other traffic laws. But the key is education, that is how we learned in the west. In Britain when these laws were introduced they were accompanied by hard hitting shock factor public service announcements. I will never forget these adverts on TV of very graphic images of car crashed that scared the public into wearing seat belts and putting their children into car seats.
It’s blatant reckless child endangerment. Weren’t the Huangs found guilty of negligence? They were providing more care to their daughter than parents whose kids were killed in a car crash because they weren’t buckled in.
I’m sorry if that’s a crude reference, but seeing kids bounce around a car being piloted by an idiot makes my blood boil. The kids don’t know any better. The parents should. If the parents of all unrestrained kids killed in car crashes were treated to the same debacle of justice the Huangs faced, I bet more kids would be strapped in like they should be.
The author of this article references a link from DN from October 2011 that states that the traffic department was making efforts to educate the public about this. So it’s now three years later and there’s been zero improvement (probably negative improvement). When will Qatar learn that “awareness campaigns” don’t produce results? Is not that difficult: Make it a law and enforce it.
2 million to study this?! Huzz just gave THE solution (and only solution)…common sense costs nothing.
The solution is fairly simple:
Identify those groups that rarely use car seats (i.e. Qataris and other non-Westerners). Show leaders and famous people from these groups using car seats in promotional ads and billboards.
Impound the cars and revoke the licenses of people who do not put their children in car seats for 30 days for a first offense. Then enforce the law equitably.
This is essentially what happened in places like the US and UK many years ago, and it worked.
So basically you are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of riyals for a car but is too much to spend few hundred riyals for your kid safety….and you cal yourself parent….
Good point. I wondered about that too. Also, they don’t do it because their kids don’t like being restrained in a moving vehicle? Please…. You’re the parent, so you call the shots! I wonder if they also give their kids ice cream whenever they want it. I mean, they don’t want their kids to grow up obese…. Wait, I think I may have just stumbled a root of this problem.
There is a law, it’s simple just enforce it.
They PAID people to do a study on this?? I could have saved them the boatloads of riyals that are no doubt being paid to the “researchers.” Simple as ABC:
Decide on the age limits for required child seats.
Pull over every vehicle with an un”seat”ed child in it.
Fine the OWNER of the vehicle QR5,000 per child, and impose mandatory driving safety classes. For the FIRST offense.
For the second offense, fine the OWNER of the vehicle QR50,000, impound the vehicle, and revoke the OWNER’S driving license for a year.
Third offense, jail time.
Note that the proposed law would be enforced against the registered OWNER of the vehicle – NOT the disposable TCN driver. And by the way, this law applies to EVERYONE — no exceptions, no excuses, no “wasta” crap. See? Problem solved.
Now then: anyone wanna take bets on this EVER, EVER actually happening in Qatar?
I’m sorry a research project??! Make it mandatory for children to travel in car seats, why is this so difficult to grasp? Why does Qatar need to reinvent the wheel, as if Qatar is somehow special. This has been done before, stop wasting money and introduce a law! As mentioned this goes around and around. Maybe a local can help here – how do new laws get proposed? I know how this works in democracy, but seriously how does it work here? Is it 10,000 signatures? Is there community meetings? When that report comes out each month with road deaths is there a PR person who can answer a few questions from DN? “Is there a proposal to bring in mandatory seatbelts for all passengers?” “When can the public expect a driving code/manual in the main languages of residents to be issued?” “Hamad reports lives could be saved if children were restrained in child seats, how many more must be lost until MOI make child seats mandatory?”
Yes, I agree. It absolutely beggars belief that something so utterly simple and obvious as mandatory child car seats and seat belts has yet to be introduced as a law in this country. I really don’t know what could possibly be the reason for not introducing this as a law. It also needs to be a law that is enforced with severe penalties and without exception. On the same note, I find it incredibly shocking that so many people in Qatar (usually Qataris and non-Westerners) still seem completely oblivious to the extreme danger that they are placing their children in by not seating them in properly restrained car seats, irrespective of whether it is the law or not. And that’s before we even get onto the issue of those parents who allow their children to bounce around inside their cars as if they are some kind of mobile playground.
Ohh Qatar is special, very special. The road laws are available of the MOI website if you dig deep enough and seatbelts, indicating giving way or all legislated for already. Just not enforced and ignored ….
The law only requires seatbelts for the driver and front seat passenger, it should be for everyone in a vehicle. The rest are written so vaguely it would be hard to enforce, what is sufficient time? A foreign born policeman is going to be shouted down every time by the local driver over “sufficient time”, it’s so subjective. They need to revamped with accuracy in mind ‘indicate at least 50m before turning” etc etc you know normal stuff. It should be accompanied by a road code manual, similar to the one most of us studied to get our license. Written in several languages, with diagrams galore. I can only wish….
It shocks me that any parent requires “convincing” before they would restrain their child in the car; a good parent would just do so without any convincing necessary because they would do anything in their power to ensure the safety of (what should be) their most precious cargo. This confuses me so much!!
I have no patience for even first offenders, ANY offender is recklessly endangering the life of a child which is completely unacceptable and irresponsible. Is there no regard for human life? Even the life of your own offspring?
This may be a cultural issue that will take some more time and patience. Although western society has descended upon their country and started a slow disintegration of their values and traditions, this may be some aspect of their culture that they are being slow to adopt or change.
Westerners have to continue practicing that laws of using a child seat. This may start to serve as an example of the right thing to do. Maybe a study should be done to show the percentage of western child’s survival with child seat as opposed to the the local survival of a child without a car seat. Maybe that type statistic will start to show the urgency for these local families that have not adopted the practice as of yet.
Put simply…lazy idiots. Perhaps banning and neutering all lazy idiots who don’t wear seat belts themselves from having children might work?
So a special patrol of police who actually have the guts and complex motor skills to turn on the flashing lights and pull over a car, is formed who pull over all adults not wearings seatbelts and whisk them down to Hamad for a quick snip or clamp of the appropriate organs. If adults found with kids unrestrained then same same but the kids are removed and offered for adoption to adults who are responsible and will love and care for them. Harsh I know but could work?
It is a bit harsh, but I would be lying if I said that a similar thought didn’t cross my mind. For a parent to be so careless about the life of their own child does seem to demonstrate that they are not fit to have one in the first place.
There are tests, certifications, qualifications, etc. to do almost EVERYTHING in life, except for having a child, which is unfortunate because that should require the most scrutiny of all since it is no longer just yourself at stake, but the life of an innocent, helpless child.
It was typed with a certain amount of sarcasm. Of course I wouldn’t seriously advocate this, but really how far do you have to go to get the message through.
I hear ya Observant One, and of course I wasn’t taking you literally. I was just more impressed with the fact that you typed what had come into my head when I wasn’t brave enough to type it myself. Of course neither of us would advocate this approach, but it is more the principle, and, consistent with what you said, what on earth does it take to get the message through to people who subject their own children to this type of danger?!
How do you get people in Qatar to use child car seats (and baby cots) and get them out of the front seat, and for that matter to use seat belts? The first step is to make it law and enforce it. The second step is to educate people on safety aspects, and it’s the second step because no matter how much education you give, some people simply will not get it or they will choose to ignore it.
Unfortunately there is still a third world mentality to all of this.
I can’t believe people think they are too difficult to use! That’s not an excuse.
In the UK they won’t let you leave the hospital with your newborn until they have seen that your car seat is fitted correctly.
We all know that changing the rules won’t make any difference with the lack of enforcement.
12 or 18 months ago, I offered Hamad Medical my services on a volunteer basis to fit the free baby seats to cars before mum and baby left hospital. I also provided them with my resume and CV to highlighting my background in road trauma/safety education and enforcement. I offered to come in for about 12 to 16 hours per week…never heard back.
What a complete and utter waste of research funding. This research was carried out extensively YEARS ago. The results have informed EU, UK and US legislation regarding protecting those travelling in vehicles- it’s a no brainer. Far better to spend the $2m on providing free car seats and police to monitor and forcefully implement the law. Any adult who neglects to protect the children in their care is guilty of at least neglect, at worst abuse.
Maybe they should hire the same research team that recently concluded it would be hot during a summer world cup in Qatar… this issue seems to be equally baffling…
Make it mandatory. Fine those who don’t use it. It’s a simple solution!
Nothing makes me more angry than seeing innocent babbins not strapped in because of their idiotic/ ignorant parents.
Insha’allah I will get a car seat… Insha’allah we will get home safely… Insha’allah my child will survive an accident while jumping around in back and hanging out the window and the sun roof…
How does insha’allah save your child’s life? God’s will is given to those that are willing to take steps to ensure that the “will” be done.
Most western expats with children use restraints as the norm , and would be really anxious if the child was not in a proper seat of strap. So many times I have been appalled to see men driving without seat belts- with small children on their laps; Mothers travelling without a seat belt- cradling a baby in their arms, whilst older children and toddlers climb around in the back, sticking heads out of sunroofs or fully open windows.
I would call for a helpline number by which people who openly abuse their children’s safety can be reported by members of the public, with a follow up visit by the authorities to give advice. Second offence should be punished by loss of licence by the vehicle Owner and a hefty fine based on number of children involved.
Perhaps a polite leafleting campaign by Western expats to Abaya and Thobe wearing shoppers would get the message across, with graphic images of injured children, softened by a free chocolate.
Ha ha! Love the leafleting campaign idea.