The Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP) at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad Trauma Center is warning residents about the hazards of driving with passengers in an open sunroof.
Dr. Rafael Consunji, Director of the HIPP, the community outreach arm of HMC’s Hamad Trauma Center, says that passengers, especially young children, are exposed to extremely high risk for severe injury and death if they are standing in an open sunroof in the event of a collision or even a sudden turn or stop.
“With the cooler weather, more motorists are not only driving with their windows open but even with children being allowed to ride in open sunroofs while the vehicle is moving. Allowing any unrestrained passenger, but especially children, to extend their hands/arms and head outside of the vehicle is extremely risky for several reasons,” said Dr. Consunji.
Dr. Consunji says an unrestrained child who is not in a size-appropriate car seat or seatbelt has three times the risk of severe injury or death in a car crash or sudden stop from high speed. He says if that child is allowed to extend any part of his/her body from an open window then the child is exposed to additional risk – as they expose their head or hands/arms to direct trauma from other vehicles, roadside structures, and even pedestrians, adding that the chance of ejection from the vehicle is significantly increased.
“Allowing children to stand in open sunroofs adds additional risk by exposing them to overhead signs and tree branches, plus an even greater chance of ejection and being pinned and crushed underneath the vehicle, in the event of a rollover. Rollovers are one of the most common causes of road traffic injury in Qatar,” said Dr. Consunji.
According to Dr. Consunji, it is important for parents and families to remember that one of the most important things they can teach and demonstrate to their children is the consistent use of a seatbelt and size-appropriate car seat, on every journey, no matter how short or at what speed.
“Oftentimes, it is the sudden and unexpected behavior of other motorists that can transform a routine journey into a nightmare experience. Whether or not a passenger is restrained properly will dictate whether they will be injured, or even die, as a result of a car crash,” said Dr. Consunji.
“No responsible parent wants to knowingly take unnecessary risks with their most precious cargo. Please help us to spread this information so no child in Qatar will be hurt while riding unrestrained with their head, arms, or hands out of an open window or sunroof. Let us control what we can; do not leave to chance the health and future of your children,” added Dr. Consunji.