Seat belt made mandatory for backseat passengers Filed on May 7, 2014 | Last updated on May 7, 2014 at 02.00 am
Seat belt made mandatory for backseat passengers

The new rule has been approved because of a rise in injuries and deaths among people who sit in the back seats of the cars.

Passengers in the rear seat of cars will now have to wear their seat belt. Major-General Mohammed Saif Al Zafin, Head of the Federal Traffic Council and Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police for Operations, said the council, during its last meeting, approved the new law and violating drivers would be fined Dh400 and issued four black points.

He said the new focus on the seat belt was attributed to a rise in injuries and deaths among people who sit in the back seats of the cars.

Maj-Gen Al Zafin added that the police would evaluate the new rule according to the age of the passengers and how tall they were. “Erring drivers will be fined Dh400 and will get four black points,” he said.

He said short drivers and passengers should take care while wearing the belts which should pass over the shoulders and not touch the next. “This will lead to serious neck injuries and strangulation in worst cases if an accident takes place.”

He said the Ministry of Interior and the Dubai Police were keen on implementing the new rule to prevent accidents and ensure lives are saved. “When an accident occurs, the car suddenly swerves and stops. Passengers are thrown in front or sideways violently if the speed of the vehicle is 100km. They are at the risk of serious injuries and can even be killed if they hit the front glass or the windows.”

International studies based on accident reports have shown that seat belts have prevented serious injuries or deaths. “Drivers and those seated on front seats are in more danger when accidents take place as they could hit the windows. Passengers in the back seat could also meet the same fate.”

“People should know that not wearing seat belts could lead a person to be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life or live with epilepsy. All this could be prevented if people abide by seat belt rules,” Maj-Gen Al Zafin said.

According to Thomas Edelmann of Roadsafety UAE, the law has been long due. “It is an absolute no brainer. If you love your kids, make sure they wear seat belts.”

“It is a question of common sense. There is a 40-60 per cent chance of surviving a car crash if all passengers are buckled up.” Edelmann explained that passengers in the back who don’t wear a seat belt end up killing the people in the front, because in case of an accident, with the force and impact, their bodies fling forward. Everything in the car moves forward and acts as a bullet, killing people.”

If a car is made for five people, it has five seat belts, if an SUV is designed to accommodate seven, then there are those many seat belts. This is a universal given in car manufacturing. As for some drivers’ claims about seat belts wrinkling shirts and crumpling clothes, Edelmann says to them: “What would you choose? — a wrinkled shirt or a dead person?”

Edelmann spoke of a survey done by a car manufacturer, the findings of which reveal that women in this region think their infant is safer when sitting with them in their laps instead of strapped up in the back. “It comes down to ‘if you love your children, make sure they wear a seat belt’, and now there’s a law to enforce this common sense rule.”

Amira Agarib

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