Muscat: In an effort to reduce the number of child deaths on Oman’s roads, the Oman Road Safety Association launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about using child car seats.
With children accounting for one in eight deaths on Oman’s roads, according to Royal Oman Police (ROP) data that was released in 2017, the Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA) has stepped up its efforts to make families aware of the importance of protecting children, and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Thursday at the Traffic Safety Institute in Muscat.
“Also collaboration in the programme are a number of leading companies from the Sultanate of Oman’s energy sector, including Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Shell Development Oman, Shell Oman Marketing and Oman LNG.
Children under the age of 15 made up 12 per cent of accident-related deaths in Oman, according to figures released by the Royal Oman Police and the Directorate General of Traffic in 2017.
“Our mission is to completely eliminate fatal accidents that occur on the roads, especially involving young ones. There is nothing more important than the safety of our children, who are the future of the Sultanate.
“For about 18 months we have been working on raising awareness about the importance of child car seats and making them obligatory in the Sultanate. Today, I am extremely happy to finally see it happen,” said Ali Al Barwani, CEO of ORSA.
He added that he is grateful for the support of the energy partners. “By bringing the best minds together, we can influence behaviour and change the driving culture in Oman to protect our children, making our roads safer for future generations.
“Simply put, car seats save children. A child’s body cannot withstand the impact of a collision and, therefore, is more prone to injuries. Research shows that the only proven way we can protect our children is by putting them in properly fitted, purpose-made child car seats that are appropriate for their height, weight and age,” said Al Barwani.
He added: “We need to ensure parents not only understand their importance and why they have to take it seriously, but educate them on how to properly install them to avoid common mistakes.”
Endorsed by the ROP, the three-phase campaign will advocate for the use of child car seats. Public outreach will be carried out across a number of schools, hospitals and shopping malls throughout Oman to raise awareness about protecting children.
“The Royal Oman Police, represented by the General Directorate of Traffic, is making great efforts to enhance traffic safety in Oman. Through their hard work and collaboration with community leaders and citizens alike, the ROP has been able to successfully reduce the number of traffic accidents. Since 2012, the number of crashes on Oman’s road has gone down, due largely to the efforts and dedication of the ROP and our community,” said Brigadier-General Dr. Mohammed Awadh Al Rawas.
“The signing of this MoU today at the Traffic Safety Institute reconfirms the ROP’s commitment to involve the community in efforts to increase traffic safety and reduce automobile accidents. This comes in line with the passing of new traffic regulations which requires drivers to ensure children under the age of four are in a car seat, protecting them from injuries while riding in a car,” Al Rawas added.
The ROP will continue its efforts to raise awareness and work with both government entities and members of the private sector to make the Sultanate’s roads safer for all,” according to the Brigadier-General.
In addition, midwives will be offered specialised training on proper installation and provisions will be made to ensure child seats are accessible and affordable.
“It is very important for us to train the trainers,” said Al Barwani. “When a child is born, the parents are very happy, and they buy plenty of gifts, including chocolates, flowers, and toys for the baby. But they forget about the baby’s safety and about the importance of having a child car seat for the baby to go back home in, and while this is a very happy moment, we must not forget about the safety.
“A life once gone can never come back, no matter what you do. We will be training midwives to remind parents about the importance of safety.
“If we remind 10 people about the importance of car seats, then at least one person will be remembering it,” he added.
“These people then automatically become ambassadors for car seat safety and will help spread the message.”