The Sultanate has joined the list of top countries in the world that have made wearing of seatbelts a must for all passengers in a motor vehicle, which includes Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. In Australia, the rule was introduced in 1973, while Canada introduced it in 1976, the UK in 1991 and the US in the mid-eighties. Black points have been introduced in Oman following amendments to the Traffic Law. Motorists will get black points for traffic violations, regardless of the fines imposed on them. The UAE early last year made wearing of seatbelts mandatory for all passengers, while imposing a fine of AED 400 on the drivers. They will also get four black points for the violation.
A top source at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said children are most vulnerable in the event of an accident if they are not seated as per safety norms.
“Along with the other rules, a car seat for children is important because they are either seated on the parents’ lap — in the front seat or left on their own in the rear seat.” The percentage of children falling victim to high- speed and recklessness is very high and the ROP has been following such incidents very closely. While seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers, child restraints are a must for children below four years of age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seatbelt reduces the risk of fatality among front-seat passengers by 40-50 per cent and of rear-seat passengers by 25-75 per cent.
If properly installed and used, the child restraints reduce deaths among infants by 70 per cent and deaths among small children by 54-80 per cent. “These rules are important because a lot of children are left to fend for themselves in vehicles, especially in the school transport. This is a welcome decision,” said Moshin Sheikh, a father of four children. “It is difficult to have two car seats in a car at the same time, but as rules have been made after thorough studies, we should respect them,” he added. Social media was abuzz with questions about the use of seatbelts, including whether a six-year-old child could be seated in the front seat. “Seatbelts should be enough for children sitting in the rear seat to save some space,” said a parent.