This is a long overdue re-post of a very important topic, the use of (or lack thereof) car seats and seat belts in the Kingdom!
The roads of Saudi Arabia are notorious for fatal car accidents with more than 300,000 traffic accidents occurring every year. Traffic accidents account for more than 30 percent of bed occupancy in hospitals and they cost over 21 billion riyal a year, which is 4% of national income. 19 people die in traffic accidents daily. If these current trends continue, Saudi Arabia could have more than 4 million traffic accidents a year by 2030. By comparison, over the past two decades, there have been 4 million traffic accidents, resulting in 86,000 deaths.
The lack of using carseats and seat belts contributes to the sky-high rates of traffic accident fatalities and severe injuries of infants and children in the Saudi Kingdom. In fact, accidents where the baby/child is crushed to death by a parent holding them are so common that medical staff in the Kingdom often refer to these victims as “Saudi Airbags“. In the case of another very common accident, where the child flies from the backseat and out of the window at the same speed of the speeding car, they’re termed “Saudi bullets”.
It’s a gloomy, harsh reality for medical personnel in KSA who face such car accident victims daily. These patients are so frequent that an abbreviation, ‘RTA’, is used when referring to Road Traffic Accident cases. It’s not an easy job, and most certainly it’s immensely frustrating to see and treat hundreds, if not thousands of crushed, dead babies that could’ve been saved from their fate by securing them in car seats.
Children hanging out of the car from the sunroof or windows, bouncing all over the back seat and sitting on daddy’s or mommy’s lap in the front are a common sight here. Use of seat belts or carseats is still rare, although during the recent years they’ve definitely become more easily available and people are starting to use them more.
The problem for some Saudis is large family size and car seats are quite pricey. So either the family simply can’t fit all the children into seats/seat belts, or they can’t afford them. This problem could be solved by leaving some of the kids home and only taking as many that can be secured in belts. The government could chip in and help make carseats more affordable and easily available like they do in many countries.
Many a times it’s just pure ignorance too. There needs to be more education about child car safety and the benefits of using car seats. Lots of people just don’t know they can really save lives and think they are just a nonsense Western invention that can even harm children. One way of educating parents on the importance of the seats could be to teach them while at the hospital with the newborn. Many countries actually require the parents to have an infant carseat for the baby before they are allowed to leave the hospital.
That said, there are still people who very well know and have heard of the statistics proving that carseats and belts save lives, yet they don’t see a need to use them. Why? Because of the thinking “everything is QadrAllah”, meaning that if a person should die in a car accident, it was their inevitable fate and God’s will and thus a carseat would not have saved them anyways.
Those parents could reflect upon this Hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I untie her and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.” Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2517
These very wise words of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) should convey to parents that securing, or “tying up” their children does not mean that they don’t trust in Allah.
My letter to parents in Saudi Arabia (and everywhere in the world..)
”Dear parents in Saudi-Arabia,
I’ve noticed that many of you don’t seem to care too much about the safety of your children in the cars.
I have always wondered how you can have this nonchalant attitude whilst driving among the most insane, irresponsible, reckless drivers and dangerous roads in the world?
You love and cherish your children so dearly, yet you place them under such danger by not securing them in seat belts and car seats!
Don’t you wish to keep them safe in the crazy traffic of Saudi-Arabia? A person is killed on the Saudi roads every 90 minutes. A fifth of them are children under 12 years old.
The next one could be your child. Think about it.
Would you let your child run around on a highway, or play in a busy parking lot? Of course not!
So why then do you let your child jump around in your speeding car? Don’t you think it’s dangerous to let him hang out of the windows with cars speeding by? How about having him sit between yourself and the steering wheel? Were you aware that if the car would come to a sudden stop you would crush your child to death with your own body, while in most cases you would survive the crash alive.
Fathers, do you think because you are such great drivers nothing will ever happen to you? Think again.
Do you realize how many non licensed, inexperienced drivers and even children are out there actually driving the cars?
Have you thought about how many road hooligans there are in the streets chasing women and causing accidents?
There is nothing your excellent driving skills can do to prevent accidents caused by other peoples’ reckless driving habits.
You might think you don’t need a car seat or seat belts because Allah will protect your family. It’s time to re-think this.
Children are treasures given and gifted to you by the grace of God. He has trusted them under your care. It’s your responsibility to protect your child from any harm that you possibly can. God trusts you, are you worth His trust? Parents will be held accountable for this trust on the Day of Judgement.
You wouldn’t let your child enter a lions cage at the zoo and just think Allah will protect your child, would you? That would be careless, irresponsible and potentially fatal. Just like holding the baby in your lap in a moving car and taking the risk of crushing her to death. Or allowing her to stand out of the sunroof while speeding on the highway and taking the risk of her flying out like a puppet.
Equally irresponsible and reckless as placing your child in that cage. Think about it. You know the lion is dangerous and might attack your baby so you would never place them in such danger! Why place them in the same kind of potential danger, unsecured in a car?
In the case of an accident, your precious infant WILL fly out of your lap like a football, no matter how hard you hold on to him. It’s proven to be impossible to hold on to a child in case of collision. Not even SUPERMAN could do it! The force of the crash makes it the equivalent to holding a thousand instead of a few kilos. If you still don’t believe it to be true check this video of an infant flying out of a car moving at only 35mph. Now you might understand the term ‘Saudi bullets’, when cars here often speed at over 100mph, the infant literally moves as fast as a bullet out of the parents arms, piercing through the windshield.
Did you know that car seats and seat belts save lives? According to various studies they can cut the risk of infant fatalities by up to 80%. The tools to help parents protect their child in the best ways possible are out there. Fulfil your parental responsibility and secure your child!
You probably heard the Hadith about the Bedouin that left his camel untied. The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said to him: “Be wise [first] and tie your camel, then trust in Allah.”
Wouldn’t this same golden advice also apply to the most valuable of your possessions, your child?
Be wise and tie up your baby in a car seat!
The rest is up to Allah.
A Concerned Parent. ”
You can read the original post here.
CDC Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet here.
Read how to correctly secure your child in a car here.
More info on how to correctly use child booster seats here.
Help for buying a car seat guide here.
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Hello there, I’m Laura, the founder, author and manager of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 69 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Having visited all corners of the Kingdom with over a decade of experience, I have a vast knowledge base about travel and tourism in Saudi Arabia.