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Saturday, July 24, 2021

It’s ‘only a matter of time’ before Qatar implements a car seat law

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Officials in Qatar appear primed to pass a new law that would require parents to buckle small kids into car seats.

The move comes after years of awareness campaigns, according to Khalid Saifeldeen, director of Hamad International Training Center (HITC).

Speaking to Doha News this week at the transport forum, the official said his Hamad Medical Corp.-affiliated group has been pushing for legislation to curb bad driving habits.

He added:

“The legislation has been proposed and discussed with the prime minister, and is currently under consideration. It is only a matter of time before it will be implemented.”

The law

Right now, parents are not required to strap small kids into car seats.

However, it is illegal for children under the age of 10 years old to ride in the front seat of a vehicle.

Still, this practice persists in Qatar, as babies are routinely seen sitting unrestrained on parents’ laps in the front.

Before any new legislation passes, many people have said existing laws need to be enforced, including Saifeldeen. Speaking to Doha News in 2013, he said:

“At the end of the day, the police must enforce this – this doesn’t need a great deal of education. Putting them in the back seat is just a starting point, a beginning of acceptance that what they’re doing is wrong.

We also want to stop people letting their children hang out of windows. Just one pothole, and they could fall out. These things should be just basic parental instinct.”

Over the past few years, HMC has been training volunteers on how to correctly install car seats.

So far, more than 100 technicians have been trained under the Kulluna safety initiative.

Not just enforcement

Other experts this week said road safety goes beyond police intervention.

Road engineers also play a big role, said safety specialist Michael De Roos from Ashghal during one panel session.

“We can’t blame the driver. We’re not trying to scare people who speed, but there are simple engineering techniques and ways we can let them know about the physics of a car,” he said.

And other officials stressed that more surveys and campaigns should take place first before any legislation is adopted.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But Saifeldeen said there currently needs to be more focus on “parental responsibility” when it comes to changing road behavior.

“We don’t doubt that parents love their children, but sometimes we need to alert them. We don’t want children to act like floating bullets when accidents happen,” he said.

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