View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Road: The Most Dangerous Place in the Emirates

Travel writer and foreign correspondent, George Negus, has made several observations about the United Arab Emirates. In his book, The World from Islam, his harshest criticisms are directed towards drivers on the roads of the Emirates. Negus calls drivers in the UAE reckless and other colourful words and this he says in a country where there is, at least officially, no alcohol-drinking culture!

Surveys on the reasons for the UAE having one of the highest road accident rates in the world have been conducted regularly and have usually pinpointed carelessness and excessive speed as the greatest factors. Many articles have been written about the UAE propensity for tail-gating and the failure of drivers to stop for pedestrians at a crossing. Now rental car companies are offering relaxation workshops to drivers and petrol companies are running road safe campaigns that seek to change behaviour by giving cash rewards.

The Gulf News (18 May 2008) has come up with yet another poll in which they ask their readers to recommend ways to make the UAE roads safer. While there are helpful recommendations about U turns, street design and installing traffic lights, the poll concludes that impatience, the need to be first and the ‘king of the road’ mentality are the primary matters needing correction.

One positive step is that the bar is being raised dramatically at the point when people undertake their test to get their driving license.

While teacher’s should not always be held responsible for the actions of their pupils the frequent flouting by driving instructor cars of the international law on ‘Stop’ signs (interpreting these as ‘Give Way’ or ‘Yield’) suggests that UAE driving instructors need to undergo a more rigorous retraining.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “UAE driving instructors need to undergo a more rigorous retraining.”