From left: Dr Jens Thomsen of HAAD, Phil Horton from BMW, and Peyman Parham Younus of the RTA address a press briefing. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: German carmaker BMW will hand out 10,000 child safety booster cushions as part of a road safety campaign supported by Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and Dubai's Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

The campaign, ‘Stay Alert Stay Alive' was launched yesterday in Dubai, to increase awareness on road safety and ultimately reduce road fatalities. The first leg of the campaign is focusing on child safety.

"From 2000 to 2006, 457 children have died in the UAE of road traffic injuries and in 2009 alone 44 children have died of road traffic injuries in Abu Dhabi Emirate," Jens Thomson, head of Occupational and Environmental Health, Public Health and Research Department at HAAD, said during a press conference yesterday.

Infant and child car safety restraints have proven to be highly effective public health interventions, according to HAAD. "There is scientific evidence that they are 71 per cent effective for infants and 54 per cent effective for toddlers in preventing childhood fatalities attributable to car crashes," Thompson said. Between 63 per cent and 68 per cent of all childhood injury deaths are caused by road traffic injuries, "which makes road traffic injuries by far the leading cause of childhood injury death in this country", Thomson said.

"Everyone should be fully aware of how best to protect themselves and their children against the dangers posed by driving," said Phil Horton, managing director of BMW Group Middle East.

"We all have a role to play — the government, automotive companies, and the general public. Without a doubt, the simplest way for drivers and passengers to protect themselves is to buckle-up every time," he added.

According to a study conducted by the UAE University in 2008, 98 per cent of children travelling by car were not restrained and 23 per cent of children travelled in the front seat, which is considered illegal in the UAE for children below the age of ten. In the same study on average only 29 per cent of drivers wore seat belts.

"The RTA has an objective of reducing road deaths and serious injures by 40 per cent by 2015," said Peyman Parham Younus, director of marketing and corporate communication at RTA.