Residents have been asked to take photographs of cars where a
child is on the driver's lap or in the front seat, and report
it to police.
Khaled Al Kamda, director general of Dubai's Community
Development Authority, said the move would hopefully teach parents
the responsible way to drive their children.
"Putting a child in a driver's lap places the child in
a dangerous situation," he said. "It is part of our moral
duty to ensure a child is protected and if we see behaviour
endangering a child it should be reported.
"But one condition is the report and any photos should be
sent only to the authority.
"It is part of our responsibility to create responsible
citizens. There is no argument against reporting a situation where
a child's life is in danger.
"If he sits on his father's lap and the father is
driving, police will take severe action."
The Child Protection Law that came into effect in June allows
people to report incidents where care givers, relatives, neighbours
or medical staff put a child's life at risk.
The law demands that people sitting in the front of a car must
be strapped in.
Children under 10 are ban-ned from sitting in the front, and
parents who let them face a Dh400 fine and four black points on
A child held by a parent may be crushed or put through the
windscreen in an accident, safety experts said.
"It's about getting used to the law and changing
behaviour of parents and individuals," Mr Al Kamda said.
"The onus is on all of us to protect children."
But he warned people not to endanger their own safety by taking
photos while driving.
The plan has met with approval from parents.
"I once saw someone driving with a baby on her lap while
she was feeding it, and she was on the phone," said Lisa
Barfoot-Smith, founder of the Louis Smith Foundation, which
supports teenagers struggling with depression.
"It would be great if I could report that to someone and
something actually happens.
"I hope this will make people pay more attention to
children's safety because I have seen so many frightening
Lawyers said knowledge of traffic laws should be spread among
"In some countries it's not a crime so it has to be
done while taking into consideration people from different
backgrounds," said Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Al
Rowaad Advocates. "Legal knowledge for everybody is most
But Salha Khalifa, an Emirati lawyer who works with women and
children, was not convinced that taking photographs would be
"Many of our cars have black windows so how can photos be
taken?" Ms Khalifa asked.
She said that she was not comfortable with people taking
"Suppose a mother wants to feed her child and takes out the
seat belt? There are many ways to protect children, but with
photographs? I'm not so sure."
Lesley Cully, founder of the Buckle Up campaign that urges
safety restraints for children, also warned against taking
photographs when driving.
"I appreciate the reasoning behind it but it's a bit
complicated," Ms Cully said. "This creates a whole new
danger of using your phone in the car.
"I would still say putting on a seat belt will prevent a
lifetime of regret and tragedy. Just buckle up in the front and the
back, protect yourselves and love your children."
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