A child seat being tested on a RTA bus. The RTA has already installed child seats in 50 taxis. Image Credit: Courtesy: RTA

Dubai: Child seats could soon be a common sight on buses if a proposal is given the go-ahead.

A move to install them on public buses is under study and, if approved, every Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) bus will have at least one child seat.

A private firm, Babykish, distributors of Graco baby products in the GCC, has made the proposal and is currently working with the RTA on testing the installations.

“We have done the preliminary tests with different types of seats that we have on various RTA buses and one of our products fits perfectly on all the buses. The RTA has asked me for minor changes to the belts, which we are working on right now. Once we fix the belts and do the tests again, I think we should be ready to roll,” said Hamid Reza Ahmadi, CEO of Dubai-based firm Babykish, which is running a ‘one seat for a child’ campaign.

The campaign aims to have a child seat for each child in the UAE by 2020, with an eye on drastically improving road safety for children by Expo 2020.

Ahmadi has a plan of implementation and believes it can be done with a little effort from all sections of society.

“We are working with the RTA on having child seats on buses and in taxis, we are working with driving institutes to educate people about the importance of having child seats in cars. We have partnered with rent-a-car firms and hotels to have their vehicles fitted with child seats. Soon we will tie up with hospitals to gift child seats to all parents of newborns. We believe this will create great awareness among common people and encourage them to use child seats,” added Ahmadi.

Although having child seats for children below the age of six is mandatory according to a law issued by the Ministry of Interior in 2011, according to studies around 98 per cent of parents don’t follow the rule.

The law is not being fully enforced even at government level as most taxis in the UAE don’t have child seats.

In 2011, the RTA installed child seats in 50 of its taxis, while some airport taxis in Sharjah are also fitted with child seats. However, the number, according to experts, is insufficient.

“We already have child seats in 50 taxis and we are studying to have more. A proposal to have the child seats installed on buses is currently being looked at and we will finalise it once we have a successful trial,” said Dr Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of the RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

Ahmadi claims Babykish is willing to take a step further by providing at least 50 child seats to Dubai Taxi every year, which could mean by 2020 at least half of its fleet will have child seats.

“If we can implement the project fully then I believe by 2020 UAE roads could be the safest for children. Having a child seat is very important in cars as it can reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities of children by 70 per cent. Most parents are not aware about the importance of child seats and we are working with hospitals and schools to help raise the level of awareness,” he said.

Studies have revealed that around 63 per cent of child deaths in UAE are caused by road accidents, which is way beyond the global average of 22.3 per cent.