Carlease’ Comprehensive Baby-on-Board Rulebook
Toddlers are an armful of delightful distractions when you don’t have to focus on the road. But when you’re driving, child car safety comes first – you cannot afford to be distracted because your main focus should be driving cautiously with your safety and the toddler’s at the forefront of your consciousness.
Carlease has put together six things you need to do, to ensure that you and your child are safe on the road.
1. Slap on that clichéd sticker
Select a basic baby-on-board sticker that is large enough with a visible font. Other drivers will most likely feel encouraged to overtake you more carefully or be more understanding about why you’re driving at a slower pace when they see the sign.
A lot of people are not in the best mood when they’re driving and some may not be great fans of children, so the more straightforward and serious-looking the sticker, the better.
If you for any reason you don’t want to let the world know you have a baby in the car – or perhaps you feel silly putting on the sticker because the child isn’t always in the car – go with a giant L (for ‘learner’) tag. That should have people skirt around your car with great care!
2. Invest in a child seat
This is not negotiable. It is the law. Starting July 1, 2017, the UAE put into place a new federal law that made child seats – placed in the rear of the car for additional safety – mandatory for kids up to four years old, with violations attracting a fine of AED 400.
Any vehicle you rent from Carlease will come equipped with child seat anchors, meaning that you can attach a seat you already have with great ease. Additionally, you can choose to rent a car seat along with your car at a small additional fee. For extra safety and standardization, choose cars with ISOFix or LATCH seat anchors – go to our Fleet Guide and click on More Specification and Reviews to make double-sure that the car you are renting is compatible.
If you prefer to buy your own, choose a convertible car seat that works for infants, toddlers, and children up to four years old – you can use it in rearward mode until your child is at least two years old (but preferably until your child is up to 4 years old). When in doubt, use the 4-40-40 rule: move from rear-facing to front-facing when your child is either 40 inches tall, or weighs 40 pounds (about 18KG) or is 4 years old.
Think you can flout the law and get away with it? Remember that a child’s feet don’t touch the car floor and so they have little or no control over their body’s inertia when you swerve or hit the brakes suddenly. They will hurtle forward and quite possible hurt themselves.
3. Tantrum pit-stops
A bawling baby is the equivalent of having an altercation with a mate or spouse in the passenger seat. Extremely distracting! No matter how late you are, remind yourself that it’s better to arrive late than injured, and pull over to sort out your toddler’s tantrum or change a diaper or whatever the need of the hour is.
Don’t attempt to multi-task here: trying to hush your toddler while trying keep your eyes on the road (or trying to continue driving with the commotion) puts you and your child at risk. Pack everything you will need to keep your child comfortable to ensure that your bundle of joy is less of a distraction while driving.
The Ministry of Interior’s statistics in the UAE show that distracted driving causes 11 per cent of road fatalities, which is at par with tailgating and misjudgment.
4. Phones take a back-seat
This is good advice irrespective of whether you have a toddler on board or not. Perhaps the double responsibility will drive the point home. According to a survey conducted by Road Safety UAE (RSU) in 2016, 74 per cent of UAE drivers use mobile phones while driving. This is a terrifying statistic.
Moreover, most people tend to think that they can multi-task while at the wheel. Unfortunately, this is not true. Especially with a toddler on board, leave your phone somewhere out of reach to avoid being tempted to sneak a peek.
Just to give you a visual picture: a car hurtles forward nearly 390 metres (that’s close to half a km) in the 14-15 seconds that it takes to glance at a chat message. (If you don’t believe us, check it on your GPS or take a selfie.) That leaves plenty of room for damage.
If you have a Bluetooth headset or wireless rig and think that talking on this reduces your risk, think again: RSU has in the same study discovered that a driver’s ability to focus reduces by 37 per cent when they’re talking on the phone.
5. Don’t drive when you’re sleepy
This might be obvious to many, but not to everyone, evidently, because 20 to 30 per cent of fatal crashes in the UAE take place due to fatigue. Drive only when you’re wide awake. It’s okay to have a sleeping or sleepy (and therefore grumpy) baby in the car, but make sure you’re not sleepy or tired at the wheel. Take a nap before you leave so you’re refreshed for that drive.
Sleepy after the supermarket or a visit to the pediatrician? Crack the windows an inch and take a 10 to 15 minute snooze in the car before you get rolling again.
6. Forgetting something?
Countless tired, stressed, and harried mothers admit to having left their baby in the car unintentionally while going to run a quick errand or, worse, unintentionally while being preoccupied about the task at hand. An experiment with two doctors in August 2017 found that it took them only 20 minutes after being locked in the car to be drenched in sweat. This was accompanied by an accelerated heart rate and difficulty in breathing.
Medical professionals will tell you that children’s bodies heat up much faster than those of adults. Kids’ systems also lack the ‘practice’ that adult bodies have had at regulating their body temperature. Leaving a toddler in the car could prove fatal.
To help such a catastrophe, consider purchasing a small mirror that you can stick to your windshield in around the same place you would place a mobile phone holder. This can help provide an additional visual clue to avoid accidentally leaving your child in the car.
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