Introduction Traffic mortality in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is high; 2000–2006 incidence was reported as 10.1 per 100 000 person years for 0- to 4-year-olds and 7.8 for 5- to 14-year-olds. A 2004 study found only 4% of front-seated children and 1% in the rear restrained. Current legislation does not mandate child restraints (CRs); even for adults enforcement is limited. Since traffic police should be capable of supporting and enforcing regulations protecting children, their knowledge and attitudes toward CRs were assessed.
Methods A January to February 2008 cross-sectional survey in Al A in city included visiting each police station during shift changeover using self-administered questionnaires on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about CR.
Results The final sample included 260 traffic police (response 70%), 56% UAE citizens and 62% aged 25–34 years. For children <12-years-old, 94% felt rear seating was safest, although 3% chose the drivers lap. Misconceptions were greater respecting age-appropriate CRs, with 50% choosing booster seats as safest for infants, 48% rear-facing seats for 1- to 4-year-olds, and 50% rear-facing seats for 4- to 8-year-olds. CRs were felt necessary for front occupants among 86% and rear 87%. Traditional views on causality of crashes were prevalent; 93% cited destiny as a factor, 17% evil eye and 15% jinns.
Conclusion Despite generally positive attitudes towards CRs, knowledge on age-appropriate types was limited and traditional views on causality prevalent. Education of police should include preventability of child injury and age-appropriate CRs.
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