In recent months, local Qatar hospitals and the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department have stepped up efforts to educate the public about buckling up their infants and toddlers into car seats to keep them safe on the roads.
It is illegal in Qatar for any child under the age of 10 to ride in the front seat of a car. But, as pointed out in today’s Peninsula, the country has yet to outlaw the practice of allowing small children to ride in a vehicle unrestrained or on their mothers’ laps.
Road safety for kids is a sensitive issue here, among expats and nationals alike, which may help explain why Qatar is treading so carefully on the matter.
For one thing, many households contain multiple children, leading some parents to conclude that it is impractical to strap all of them into bulky car seats.
But Qatar is also infamous for its reckless drivers. Last year, the Qatar Statistics Authority reported some 3,000 accidents took place in the country, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
The rest of the GCC is no different, with the UAE losing 19 children in the first five months of 2011 to traffic accidents.
Perhaps in response to this information, one Emirati government body issued a new law mandating car seats for infants in June. But whether that law has actually been enforced appears up for debate.
The Peninsula reports:
Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2011-2016 stresses that introduction of child car seats can have a considerable impact on the healthcare sector. It calls for providing mothers of newborns with car seats at the time of their discharge from the hospital.
Though the child car seat is mentioned as a priority, the authorities concerned are yet to take any action in this regard. While almost all aspects of driving are the subject of big awareness drives and strict rules, not much is being done to make families aware of infant/child safety in cars.
Experts say some socio-cultural issues are hampering the implementation of rules on using child seats in cars. However, if neighbouring UAE can have laws for this why can’t Qatar, some ask.
What do you guys think? Is it time Qatar made – and enforced – a law mandating car seats for small kids?