UAE: Parents reject free child car seats

Child car seat Image copyright Thinkstock

Parents in the United Arab Emirates are rejecting road safety campaigns urging them to use car safety seats for their children, even when the seats are given away for free, it seems.

Despite road safety initiatives, adults believe that their youngsters are safer in their arms rather than "heartless" car seats, Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper reports, citing a study by UAE University. The research found that only one in five parents use them for their infants, with seats given away for free by hospitals "found unused and gathering dust at home". With the average Emirati family having 3.69 children, parents complained that seats took up too much space in the car, The National said.

With a lack of laws enforcing the use of child car seats in the UAE, the university found that social norms and fatalism dictated the belief that a child was better off sitting with parents. Where seats were used, one in six said they never buckled the child in.

"The participants' perception was that their mothers and grandmothers would think that it would be cruel and unsafe not to have their baby in their or another caregiver's arms while riding in a vehicle," assistant professor Nicole Bromfield said. Paradoxically, better-educated Emiratis were less likely to use child restraints in cars, researchers found.

The World Health Organisation says that the correct use of car seats can reduce the likelihood of car crash deaths by 70% in infants, leading to the study to conclude that "urgent legislative action and enforcement" was required in the United Arab Emirates.

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