Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oman - stop killing your children. You don't have the right.

Jet Driver blogged about the lack of child restraints used in cars here. While the comments drifted somewhat off topic, the issue of Oman's road deaths - adults and children - continues to become a national issue.

I just saw a Top Gear episode where a train collides with a car at a level crossing, in slow motion.

Omani kids need to be shown in school what happens to them in an accident, in slow motion, and what save driving means. They could use examples in Physics classes as problems in velocity and momentum.

This is your standard Omani Mum or Dad, holding a baby in the front seat without seat belts, naturally. When, surprise! That minibus is pulling out!!! OMG!!!

Maybe we can get at the adults behaviour through the children. I'd start there, coupled with more traffic cops and on the spot fines for no seat belts or child restraints.

And, some Omani engineering company needs to invent a way to reasonably safely restrain 4 or 5 kids in the back seat ... 7 or 8 kids a family is a cultural problem.

This is with a car seat.

Although, its far better to have small kids in a rear facing position until 4 or 5 yrs old. But remember to NEVER place a rear-facing car seat in a seat with an airbag. Back seat is best (rear facing), or you can have the dealer deactivate the front passenger airbag.

But can you imagine what the kids would do without seat restraints? This video of with/without belts is with adults.


  1. marry me UD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. UD

    Brilliant videos. And a very well thought out post.
    Beats my spleen venting any day! :)


  3. There was a TV program back in the mid/late eighties that would show this sort of stuff. It was funded by all the GCC countries, to be shown on their national channels (no such thing as satellite TV back then, I'm afraid). It was called 'Qif', meaning 'Stop', in Arabic (haha get it? Stop, like stop signs on the road).

    I remember it showing after the post-school cartoons, around 4pm or so (it was my queue to turn off the TV, knowing that cartoon time was over).

    -Omani in US

  4. I didn't start regularly wearing a seatbelt in the U.S. until I was in college. When I was a kid, there were no car seats. So it is easy to completely change a society's view on carseats and seatbelts in a very short period of time. I don't think education is the answer. First off, despite the comments at Jet Driver's blog, there's no way to say that it is due to a lack of information/education. If people have the means and information to get their hands on a Mercedes or Suburban and are tied in enough to have the newest cellphone and all the sattelite channels (shacks in the interior have sattelite dishes) then you can't tell me that those people are so out of touch that they don't know that there is such a thing as a carseat and that they can't make the connection that it will make their kids safer. People know the risks and benefits, but they tell themselves that it will only happen to someone else cause they are a good driver. What actually gets people moving is the threat of sanctions. The wave starts with the threat of a fine from the police (that's how seatbelts became nearly universally used in the U.S. from very low usage in less than 10 years). After that, it becomes normal to wear a seatbelt/use a carseat and you're looked at as an idiot socially if you don't conform. Same thing with carseats. Same thing is happening right now in the U.S. with laws restricting cell phone use by drivers unless a hands-free device is used. What Oman needs is a true road policing force that actually pulls people over for things like speeding, seatbelts, and car seats. You don't need to catch a lot of people, but you have to be out there enough so that everyone sees you pulling people over and hears about tickets for speed, carseats, seatbelts. Then people start wearing the stuff to avoid a fine. Then they look at it as normal. Then the society polices itself: "Hey dumbass, put a seatbelt on." But that doesn't happen until the very end of the process. But this brings up another problem. You can't have an effective police effort if wasta can get most people out of a ticket. A friend of mine in Greece explained to me why no one follows the parking rules in his neighborhood. "Everyone knows someone to get them out of the ticket so no one follows the rules and the police don't really bother trying." It really pissed him off that people kept parking in his private spot for his apartment. When he dropped me off at the train station, he parked in the street with his flashers on to walk me in. I said something about that he didn't need to wait for the train with me since his car was in the street. "It's OK," he said. "I know someone too."

  5. When I moved to small Omani village about a year ago, one of the residents told me I would like it here because everyone is 'easy going'. He said even the Police won't bother you if you do not wear a seat belt. I told him I wore a seat belt to save me from injury. He just shook his head. The young kids in this village grow up ignoring the traffic laws- so why should they start worrying about seat belts. I often see fathers driving their cars with a child in their lap. The only solution is strict Royal Oman Police enforcement of the rules already on the books- with no exceptions! Is there any reason they can't start doing this?

  6. Great article!
    There is another very convincing video (from Saudi Arabia) on YouTube:

  7. Great article! Let's hope someone from the ROP reads it and brings it up in the weekly meeting.....after items 1 through to 25 that cover issues relating to self-congratulation for being the best police force in the world.
    This seems to be standard in a region were speeding, dangerous driving, total disregard for the road rules, and the death of mainly young citizens is all A-OK by the police.

  8. Only yesterday I appproached traffic lights, which had been amber for at least two seconds...I started to slow....the lights turned red and surprises....the vehicle behind me went mad....honking his horn and shaking his hand at me. And what was this vehicle...which was so upset at me not for risking driving through a red light.....ah yes......a police bus full of police....driven by a policeman.....class!

  9. thank you UD - the more (Omani) people that bring this up, the more impact (oh goodness - pun NOT intended) the message will be

    simply - your children are worth paying for car seats!

  10. I remember when I was in college in the US in the early 90's they used to have those "Don't be a dummy" public service adverts on TV which starred two crash test dummies driving a car. It took a lot of education and strict laws on car safety seats before people started using car seats, even in the US. You can't expect Omanis to start doing the same when a) no one is even telling them to do it, b) there are no police forcing them to, c) child seats aren't cheap, but not so expensive that the government can't give them away for free even if for a one-off campaign that gives one to each new born child for a 3 or 6 month period; d) Omanis tend to have big families. I only have a 3 year old son and a 2 month old daughter and even in my big sedan it gets really cramped in the back with each of them in his seat and the nanny squeezed in the middle between the two.

    Btw, I hear than in Muscat Private Hospital they don't release a new born baby until the parents get a car carrier and the nurse comes down to the car and shows them how to strap the baby in the proper way. I don't know if this is true, but it would be really great if all hospitals were like that, but of course like I said I think the govt should first encourage people even if it gives the baby carriers for free to people who can't afford it. They only cost 20 to 30 rials for the cheaper models and what's that compared to the life of a child.

  11. You'd think just being at 1 RTA would convince people to wear seat belts.

    Anything you can do about littering?


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