If you’ve ever agonized over how to transport your little one safely across Dubai without your own car and car seat, this could be the answer we’ve all been waiting for. Child car seats must now be made available to passengers in all taxis and limo services, according to a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official.
All taxi franchise companies as well as limousine services have been instructed to have a car seat available at all times, said Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of Public Transport Agency, RTA.
This follows the amended traffic law that came into effect on July 1 that requires car child seats for children up to the age of four years. Failure to adhere to the law attracts a fine of Dh400 and four black points. Meanwhile children under 10 must be in the backseat, with seatbelts.
Authorities say taxi drivers have been instructed and trained to remind commuters to use the seat belt before commencing their journey.
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This news is welcomed by road safety experts such as Thomas Edelmann from RoadSafetyUAE, an online portal covering everything to do with road safety in the UAE. "Of course it is a good thing that taxis will have proper child restraint systems with them," says Edelmann, who predicts that we will be able to expect to see taxis with car seats quite soon. "Taxi operators in cooperation with government entities will for sure swiftly act on creating and implementing the proper operational procedures."
The new law only came into effect on 1 July, and at the present moment there's no official timeline regarding exactly when you can expect your Dubai taxi to be equipped with a car seat, so for the time being booking a Careem Kids through the Careem app, which comes with a car seat already fitted, is still probably the best option.
Edelmann also emphasises the importance of taxis as a vital link in the chain for educating people about the necessity of child car seats. "The availability of child restraint systems in taxis is also important for a very strategic reason: taxi drivers can educate parents and their children about how to use child restraint systems properly. From research conducted by us in February 2017 we know that 1/3 of parents in the UAE do not have proper child seats, and of those who do have them, only 70% always use them! Hence taxi drivers really play a vital role in educating the proper use of trying to restraint systems."
It's not yet clear what will happen if there is more than one child who needs a car seat in a taxi, although in the case of pre-booked taxis, Thomas Edelmann suggests,"Tell the taxi company when you book about this and the taxi company should be able to provide you with more than one child seat."
As a result of the recent changes to the traffic law, the RTA has also enhanced its "Child Safety" program, which targets children and mothers in hospitals and health centres to raise awareness of the basics of child road safety and of how to fix car seats securely.
"In comparison to other countries the UAE still has a pretty high number of fatalities, about twice the rate of the UK for example," says Edelmann. "The authorities know that it takes new, creative and innovative steps to lower the fatality numbers on our roads. Hence we applaud this latest move to make car seats mandatory for children under four and for all taxis to provide car seats, which will certainly result in fewer casualties. This step also shows that the UAE is determined to become leaders rather than followers with regards to road safety."