More than half of child car seats improperly installed

With international studies indicating that more than 75% of child car seats are improperly installed or used, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is working to reduce the risk of children being injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents by raising awareness on how to properly fit and secure the restraints.

In 2012, Hamad International Training Centre (HITC), an initiative of HMC, launched the Kulluna for Health and Safety Campaign. Staff from Kulluna work within the community and assisted in the selection and correct installation of appropriate child car seats.

Since its launch six years ago, the Kulluna team, in collaboration with US-based Safe Kids Worldwide, has helped install hundreds of child car seats. Kulluna has also introduced a child passenger safety technician (CPST) certification which teaches participants how to correctly install and secure child car restraints. To date, over 120 people have completed the certification, led by a team of  certified safety technicians who provide participants with one-on-one instruction.

Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, HITC Director and Kulluna Chairman, said that although some parents use a child car seat, many  still don’t know how to use them properly and need help.

A child passenger safety technician helps with this through community presentations and/or child safety seat checks with hands-on assistance on their proper use.’

The most common causes of improper child car seat use include ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions for installation; not following the correct directions for the child’s age, weight, mental, and physical development; installing the seat too loosely; not tightening the harness straps properly; and failing to use all of the harnesses available to properly secure a child into the correct position.

In Qatar, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for all ages, especially the young. Almost 200 people in Qatar, including children, are killed each year while around 800 suffer severe injuries that need hospital admission or surgery as a result of car crashes.

Every year, the HMC Trauma Centre, Ambulance Service, and Emergency Department treat hundreds of children injured as a result of being unrestrained, or improperly restrained, in motor vehicles. While a significant number survive, we must bear in mind that not all victims will recover fully and many will be forced to live with permanent disabilities.’

Dr Aisha Fathi Abeid, the Injury Prevention Assistant Director for the Hamad Injury Prevention Programme (HIPP) recently completed the CPST certification course and said she has seen first-hand that improper use of car or booster seats can be deadly.

As a mother, a paediatrician, and a responsible resident of Qatar, I recognised an urgent need to make child passengers safer. In the CPST course offered by Kulluna, I found a concrete way to increase public awareness, teach families with young children about the importance of car seats, and become a more knowledgeable advocate for child passenger safety.’

In recent years Qatar has launched a number of initiatives to decrease the incidence of avoidable deaths and disability as a result of motor vehicle crashes. The second action plan of the National Traffic Safety Strategy 2018-2022 was launched last month. The strategy aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to road crashes annually.

More information about child passenger safety available at Kulluna website