Thursday, 4 December 2008

Babies, Cars & Kinetic Physics

I have been thinking of writing this for a while, and the fact that it has been raining made me decide to expedite the process. 

I know that all of my expat readers have seen one of these before, but I wanted to draw them to the attention of local drivers. 

This is a child's car seat. It is not a toy. It is a safety device, that is designed to prevent your kid from becoming a flying death machine when you or someone else, does one of your usual and utterly astonishing road maneuvers. 

Now, I know that cultural awareness and tolerance is spoken about widely in the papers and on a lot of the blogs here - and while I fully respect the religious beliefs of my hosts, there has to come a time when you need to be practical. 

Picture the scene. This morning - coming out of Seeb and onto the highway, I am driving behind a late model Mercedes, and in the back, I see the beautiful smiling faces of three local children. Two girls and one boy - all between three and five years old. 

Dad hits the brakes as another muppet slices across two lanes of traffic, and the kids disappear, only to resurface again albeit in a different order - grinning and waving.
I just don't know how parents can allow this situation to occur. 

Time for a crash course in Physics:

The force of gravity upon you means that right now, you are experiencing what we call 1G - or one times the force of gravity. 
When you accelerate or decelerate, you experience different levels of G. 
For example, when I make a tight turn at work at high speed, I can experience about 6G sometimes more. 

As well as being uncomfortable, it also has an effect on my body's perceived mass. 
If my head weighs 10kg - this means that in a 6G turn, it now feels like it weighs 60kg. 
During a rapid deceleration, I can experience "negative G' which will try to pull me out of the seat. 
If I wasn't very securely strapped in, I would quite literally be minced after I disappeared through the instrument panel.

The same thing goes for your children. 
In a 120 kph crash, the deceleration factor can make the average child without proper restraints, pass through the car interior with the force of an elephant.
And if it happens, there is no prayer in the world that will save them.

A flying child with that much kinetic energy, has several options: 
They can, if you are lucky, go through the windscreen, killing only themselves.
Or, if your vehicle gets hit at an angle, the child can bounce around the inside of the cab, killing everyone. 

Put three kids in the car - and you triple your chances of instant death for all. 
Think that it can't happen to you? Think again.
I get the feeling that it happens here a lot. 

What stuns me is that, as far as I know, there is only one retailer that sells these seats in this country - Baby Shop in the Centrepoint chain.
This is absolutely outrageous!

THE USE OF CHILD CAR SEATS SHOULD BE LAW IN OMAN - Take that to the Ministries. 
Get it sorted. Now!

15 comments:

Oman Reisen said...

LuLu also sells them - at least in Darsait. Wearing back seat belts would also help - but hey its tough getting even the front seats ones done up for some people

muscati said...

Child car seats are sold at all branches of Baby Shop, Mothercare, Toys R Us, Lulu and Toy Store.

You have a very important topic here. Unfortunately the way you wrote it is extremely condescending to Omani readers, but then again it's not the first time I noticed something like that on your blog.

I am sure that all Omanis who read English blogs like yours all use child seats for their kids. It's a matter of education and sadly neither the government or the police are doing anything to educate people about them or to enforce them to use them.

Jet Driver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jet Driver said...

Muscati:

Don't confuse my directness with condescension.
You have to be able to stand up and say, "Yes, we have our faults."
And they are faults that we all have. Some are prevalent according to country and culture and others are down to a lack of awareness and education.

However, with respect to your comments about people needing to be "educated" about the use of car seats, is like suggesting that the government implements "Don't Jump Off A Cliff" training.

It is Common Sense.

Thank you for the update on the locations where these seats can be bought.

I mean you, nor your fellow countrymen, no insult.
These are the facts. Call it constructive criticism if you will - it is not, however, condescension.

JD

muscati said...

"I know that all of my expat readers have seen one of these before, but I wanted to draw them to the attention of local drivers."

and

"with respect to your comments about people needing to be "educated" about the use of car seats, is like suggesting that the government implements "Don't Jump Off A Cliff" training."

No, not condescending at all.

Jet Driver said...

"No, not condescending at all."

Correct. It is called "dry wit".

JD

Anonymous said...

JD

You should've specified "I know that all of my expat readers FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE have seen..." The Filipino waiter and the Jordanian banker are also expats.

You would be surprised how a car-seat is not common-sense. I doubt our parents used those; my parents got surprised at the novelty of the car seat when I purchased it for our little one.

So yes:

education --> legislation --> enforcement.

boxster said...

the above comment is mine =)

Jet Driver said...

Heheheh - fair enough :)

JD

fred_says said...

Jet Driver

I fully agree with you - 50 OMR is nothing compared to a child's life.

However, when you consider that most cars can only fit two seats and the majority of families have more than two children..... well..... you can see where the conflict starts.

Thankfully my children grew up watching a program called "Little Einsteins" where they emphasis "Seat Belts Buckle!" every time they go up in their rocket ship. And my eldest son repeats this every time he gets in the car.

Education is the key.

And my heart breaks every time I see children unrestrained. I was living in South East Asia beforehand and seat belts are rare let alone car seats. At least you can buy the seats here in Oman.

muscateeress said...

Unfortunately, I get to see first hand the results of unrestrained passengers in cars...not pretty..

For those passengers who carry their babies in the front seat of the car in their lap...THEY ARE NOT PORTABLE AIRBAGS!!!!

For those that say that their children cry when they are but in car seat....they will get used to them, put up with the noise. To my knowledge, no child has ever died from crying too much.

Please people, get these children restrained, and then I don't have to come home and cry over what I have seen at work!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey fred,
which part of South-east asia did you live in?

was fined and got some demerit points for not wearing a seat belt and child seats for the children!

Undercover Dragon said...

Nice post JD.

That's why my family drive a really, really, big car with child restraints.

Karim said...

Jet Driver

You make sound that all Europeans are the most safty concious lot around, and that all Omanis "locals" dont give a damm about the safety of their children. We lived in Europe and saw the homeless, the drunkards and the mothers who will feed their children dog food.

You could have done a better job by tackling the issue rather than poking jokes on us dumb locals.

You have a good point, but you sorts off made a mess out of it.

Jet Driver said...

Karim

A mess of it?
Not at all.
Dumb locals.....fact.
Dumb Europeans......fact as well.
Just a lot more dumb locals here than there.

Once you all get your head around that, then maybe this place will change for the better.

JD