Leaving children unattended in vehicles is especially dangerous during the hot summer months, and is punishable under the UAE’s strict Wadeema’s Law protecting child rights Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Police have once again warned residents against leaving children unattended in cars, adding that the practice can be tragic and fatal.

During the National News Bulletin, Captain Mohammed Hamad Al Isai, director of Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrols Directorate, said leaving children unattended in vehicles is especially dangerous during the hot summer months, and is punishable under the UAE’s strict Wadeema’s Law regarding child rights.

“Children of any age should never be left unattended in a vehicle. Not only could they suffocate to death within minutes, they could also play with the transmission and controls, moving the vehicle from its parked state,” Capt Al Isai said.

“Leaving children unattended is a crime punishable by law, and Wadeema’s Law is tough on violators. It imposes a minimum Dh5,000 fine on the guardian who leaves the child unattended in the vehicle, and this could be accompanied by a jail sentence,” he added.

Hot car deaths

Hot car deaths – which occur typically when a young child is left unattended in a vehicle and is unable to leave as internal temperatures rise to unbearable levels – have previously been reported in the UAE, as in many other countries. Even in cases where the vehicle is not locked, children may end up trapped inside if they tamper with the controls or locks. Rising internal temperatures can then cause organ damage due to heatstroke, or death by suffocation. Studies have shown that temperatures inside a locked vehicle can rise to fatal levels that are 25 degrees Celsius higher than external temperatures within a matter of minutes.

Children may also accidentally endanger themselves if they play with the transmission and controls, which can result in a traffic accident, the authorities warned.

Tragic case

Capt Al Isai mentioned a case in which a parent in the UAE had become engrossed in a work call while driving his baby home. Upon reaching home, he had forgotten about the child and locked the vehicle. The baby was already dead by the time he remembered to check the back of his vehicle.

“I hope residents will take this incident as a warning. Whenever you head out, you must make sure to check your vehicle before locking up. In addition, no motorist or guardian should ever leave a child unattended, even for a minute, when stepping away from the vehicle. Guardians are responsible for the wellbeing and safety of children,” Capt Al Isai said.

It is also mandatory in the UAE to adequately secure children correctly with a car seat or seat belt in a moving vehicle.

read more

Fines and penalties

Captain Al Isai detailed the following fines and penalties for failing to keep children safe in vehicles:

• Dh5,000 fine for leaving children unattended in a vehicle, and the vehicle will be impounded. Offenders could also be jailed.

• Dh400 fine for failing to secure children under four years old in a car seat, or for placing children under 10 years old in the front passenger seat

• In addition, the UAE punishes child endangerment under Federal Law No 3 of 2016 on Child Rights, known popularly as Wadeema’s Law. The law penalises neglect of children in any manner, and can see jail terms and hefty fines imposed on offenders.