‘Rear seat belt enforcement must’
It’s been almost a year since the new traffic law on wearing belts by all passengers including making child seats compulsory for children under the age of four in Oman came into existence. Road safety experts, however, say that strict enforcement by the authorities is a must to bring about a big change in the behaviour of motorists.
In 2018, there were 2,454 road accidents leading to 619 fatalities and 2,836 injuries.
Eng Ali Ahmed al Barwani, member of Oman Road Safety Association (ORSA), said the law was a defining moment in making the sultanate’s roads safer but unfortunately drivers and passengers do not abide by it. “Passengers in rear seats neither abide by the law to fasten belt nor motorists insist on it. There is also less enthusiasm to use car seats for children below four years. I believe that law enforcement is a must to create a noticeable change.”
Eng Barwani suggested that authorities should publish figures of such offenders on a monthly basis. “If we publish the recorded traffic fines in these two categories, it will help in spreading awareness and contribute to enhancing road safety.”
Jeremy Fox, manager - Training Services and contract manager for PDO Defensive Driving and Safe Journey Management Training, Technical and Administrative Training Institute, said, “The evidence is very clear: seatbelts, child restraints and baby seats save lives. The authorities recognised this very clearly when the Oman Traffic Law was amended in 2018 to add the mandatory measures required to restrain babies and children in a vehicle.
“As an ex-UK police traffic officer, I have attended to many road accidents and seen at first-hand how the use of proper child restraints and infant car seats prevent death and injury. This is why I’m so concerned to see so many drivers on the roads of the sultanate ignoring the law - and in doing so, placing their children at unnecessary risk.
“I’ve been in Oman for the past ten years and am pleased to see more and more drivers and front-seat passengers wearing seatbelts. However, I also regularly see young children jumping around in vehicles unrestrained. The risk of death and injury is high even at relatively lower speeds. I would, therefore, strongly advise that drivers obey the law, and, in so doing, greatly reduce the risk of tragedy entering their lives.”
In a quick survey, nine out of ten passengers that Muscat Daily spoke to said they do not fasten their seat belts while five out of ten said they don’t secure their children in car seats.
A road user who wished to remain anonymous said that the law is there but there is lack of awareness about it.
“Seriously, many of us don’t buckle up in rear seats. Also, very few use child restraints. Even I am not concerned unless I am driving in Dubai because there is strict enforcement unlike in Oman. The same policy needs to be adopted in Oman.”
Hamida al Adhubi, an Omani admitted that she never puts on the belt when in rear seat.
“I think we need more awareness on the subject. Many like me believe it is not that dangerous to travel without the belt in the rear seat compared to front seat passengers,” Hamida said.
“Also, since Omanis have big families, it is difficult to buckle up if more than four passengers are in the car,” she added.