Muscat: Parents and guardians may have to take child car seats with them while travelling by taxis in the Sultanate, as the new road safety regulations, to take effect from March 1, do not exempt taxis.
While Royal Oman Police (ROP) officials confirmed that taxis were not exempt from the new law, senior officials of taxi companies told the Times of Oman that passengers will have to bring their own child car seats.
“Child seats must be used in taxis or else a fine will be imposed. The law does not exempt child seats from certain cars. It states that all cars must have them,” an ROP official said.
Speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman, a senior official from an Omani taxi company said parents will have to bring their own portable car seats to be used in cabs. The official’s statement was made in response to the ROP’s amended traffic laws, which make it mandatory for all vehicles carrying children aged four and under to be sitting in child car seats.
Saif, a freelance taxi driver, however, said: “Personally, I will definitely have a portable child seat and keep it in my trunk. I will do this not simply to avoid being fined but also for the safety of all my passengers.”
“It is not feasible for a permanent child seat to be kept in all taxis as this will take up space. This should, however, not be an excuse. Every taxi driver should invest in a portable child seat,” he added.
Hamed, another taxi driver from Jalan, said: “Parents must take responsibility for their children’s safety. They must bring along a child seat as taxis do not normally transport young children, and so, should not need to buy and store a seat.”
Many in the rental car business expressed concerns, that just like the fire extinguisher rule and the window-tinting rule, some taxi drivers will try to weasel out of this.
At present, three categories of car seats are available in the Omani market: zero to 12 years, zero to four years, and zero to one year. Ali Al Barwani, CEO of the Oman Road Safety Association, said some people might be concerned about the cost of the car seats but residents should rest assured that they are available at affordable rates.
“You can start as low as OMR20 or 15 and it goes up from there. You can get a good child seat for OMR20 to 30. They are available everywhere,” he said.
According to the data released by the ROP and the Directorate General of Traffic, one in roughly eight road deaths that took place in 2016 involved a child. Of the 692 deaths and 3,261 injuries recorded that year, 82 deaths and 393 injuries involved children aged 15 and under. As many as 48 deaths and 183 injuries occurred among children aged six and under, while another 34 deaths and 210 injuries involved children between the ages of seven and 15.
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