Statistics from the police’s traffic and patrol directorate show 2,930 motorists were fined after officers found children unattended during the first eight months of 2013. They were handed Dhs300 penalties.
The director of the department, Col Hussein Ahmed Al Harthi, said: “Leaving a car engine running when children are inside alone could lead to endangering the kids if they tamper with the vehicle.”
He added: “There is no reason for leaving the car engine running, even if one is getting out for a short period of time.” He stressed the problem is more common during hot months, when it is even more dangerous as children could suffocate in the soaring temperatures. Dr Sai Ganesh Pillai, who has a medical clinic in the UAE, agreed that leaving children in cars was a major risk.
“No child should be left in the car, even with the windows lowered. There can be a lack of oxygen and the air quality can decrease rapidly,” he said. “Their heart rate can start to go, if you see sweating and dizziness then they must betaken to hospital, where they need sponging and IV fluid.”
Abu Dhabi Police revealed last year that two children - aged two and four -suffered first-degree burns when they were left in a car with its engine running and it caught fire. Safety group Buckle Up In The Back also launched an awareness campaign this summer after a three-year-old suffocated when they were left in a vehicle for three hours in Ras Al Khaimah.
The handing out of fines to violators by Abu Dhabi Police has been welcomed by parents. Ahmed Khalid, a Sudanese father who lives in the capital, said: “This is an irresponsible act. It’s not proper for a normal person to leave small kids in cars alone when the engine is running.”
He said such people deserve even tougher fines for their recklessness. AndImthishan Giado, editor of Motoring Middle East, added: “It is impossible to understate the deadly risks of leaving your children in an unventilated vehicle in the Gulf heat.
“Irrespective of the level of tint your car features, temperatures can climb to in excess of 60 degrees Celsius in less than ten minutes, particularly if the vehicle is parked in a crowded city street.” He added: “In our extraordinary climate, leaving children unattended even briefly is simply not an option.”
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