RIYADH: The General Directorate of Traffic’s decision to fine those who allow children to travel in cars that are not fitted with child restraints, or those who allow children under the age of 10 to travel in the front seat, has been welcomed by parents and experts alike.
The fines range from SR300 ($80) to SR500. Vehicles without back seats are exempt from the ruling about children traveling in the front.
People found to be traveling without wearing a safety belt also risk fines ranging from SR150 to SR300 under the new rulings.
The directorate has been instructed to launch intensive campaigns to catch those who violate the rulings, and to submit daily reports to higher authorities. While most of the directorate’s surveillance is carried out by cameras, in areas where there are none the traffic police have been told to step up manual field surveillance.
Sociologist and writer Dr. Mona Al-Munajjed welcomed the “bold” new regulations. “I strongly agree and support the regulations of our government regarding imposing fines for not installing child restraints in cars. This is a wonderful measure for safeguarding children and parents,” she told Arab News.
“Unfortunately, in our society there is still a lack of awareness — especially among the younger generation — regarding traffic rules and precautions to take when driving. They drive too fast, violate traffic laws and, as a result, there are so many accidents. We need stricter traffic regulations (that are well-monitored) to save our society,” she added.
Speaking to Arab News, Afnan Al-Qassim, a mother of two, also welcomed the ruling. “Car seats are one of the most essential things to buy once you have a baby. There were many times when my toddler was about to open the window or car door and car seats really prevent that from happening,” she said.
“If a car seat is not available I would rather (my child) sit in the back seat, rather than the front, as some might call the front seat a death trap,” she added.
“As a mom I’m constantly looking at websites related to motherhood and babies,” Al-Qassim continued. “I once read that small children who sit in the front seat may be at risk of head injuries from airbags that can lift the child up (so they) hit the roof of the car. Our kids are precious, they are our life. We must keep them safe and sound. I totally support the regulations and fines imposed for negligence,” she added.