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If we are safely strapped in, why aren't our children too?



There are many people and organisations, good people, who are working tirelessly to try to improve awareness in terms of road safety, promoting safe practices, encouraging people not to use cell phones whilst driving, in fact a whole plethora of initiatives which are sadly being totally ignored

It is never an easy or a comfortable task to question the culture of a nation, particularly when it's not one's own culture that is being questioned. However, I have reached the point of despair and in doing so, feel compelled to ask the questions in the hope that I will be enlightened.

In my 25 years or so within the UK Fire and Rescue Services I have had the misfortune to witness examples of acts of incredible irresponsibility and in many case, downright stupidity and recklessness.

Many of these acts have been in connection to driving, or should I say, poor driving, the results of which have often ended in terrifying deaths and injuries to many innocent people and there are none as innocent as our children.

I recently parked my car in a large car park and as I was locking the vehicle, I noticed a queue of cars and at the front of the queue was a car with four adults and three children. The window was open so I greeted the occupants with a smile and my few words of Arabic and my greeting was reciprocated.

Nothing unusual in that I hear you say, but for the fact that all four adults were all securely strapped in their seatbelts like law abiding citizens and the children were all jumping around excitedly.

I asked if they had considered securing the children and was promptly given short shrift and a glare, "We only live 10 minutes away" was their reply and drove off, tyres squealing.

I find it absolutely incredible that mature and clearly educated people, as in this case, could afford themselves the security of a seatbelt and totally disregard the needs of their children.

This is not an isolated incident, this is happening all over the city, day in, day out.

Let me make this quite clear, children who are not wearing a seatbelt, strapped into a child or baby seat are missiles. Even at relatively low speed impacts around 40kmh, unsecured children are hurled around the vehicle cabin like rag dolls, many go through the windscreens, those sitting or standing in front seat foot wells are crushed by the engine block and dashboard as they crumple under impact, those in back seats are thrown forward, often killing front seat passengers who are wearing a seatbelt.

In a country that only has a national population of around 2 million, a nation that is forward thinking, prosperous, a land of opportunity which is crying out for young people to be educated and trained so they are ready to take over from us expats; the unacceptable culture of allowing children to free roam around a moving vehicle is wantonly killing the hopes and needs of this nation. There are many people and organisations, good people, who are working tirelessly to try to improve awareness in terms of road safety, promoting safe practices, encouraging people not to use cell phones whilst driving, in fact a whole plethora of initiatives which are sadly being totally ignored. Why? Culture?

The road traffic laws of this land are clear but there are still far too many who are allowed to flout these laws and regulations.

Why? Culture?
The Holy Month of Ramadan is time for reflection, a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, practice self-sacrifice, and do away with bad habits to name but a few.

This period is also used by car dealerships to cash in! Almost every major car maker is advertising "unbelievable" offers, free this, free that, free everything it seems, except for free child car seats! One company is even giving away free food processors in an attempt to lure prospective buyers in. Come on people! Really?

Manufacturers promote their vehicles using their latest specifications as unique selling points (USPs).
These include ENCAP safety ratings to show how safe the vehicle is to the occupants in the event of a crash. This one is a great USP if the occupants are using the vehicle in accordance with their instructions but not so great if they have their off spring running around inside. If every car sold over the next for weeks was sold with a free, EN Standard or equivalent child safety restraint (seat), think how many lives would be saved, how many children would have the opportunity to grow up and serve their country, how much heartache would be avoided?

Listen to the law makers, listen to those who are working so hard to encourage and promote safety in cars, speak to the car dealer and tell him you like the car and will buy it if they throw a couple of child seats and above all, ask yourself this question; If I am safely and legally strapped in to prevent my death or injury, why isn't my child too?

Car dealers; take ownership of this, it's within your capability and you have a moral responsibility to do so. Get rid of the free food processors and give the child seats away!

The future of Oman's youth is everyone's responsibility. Make a contribution!

The author is the Head of Training at Competence HR. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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