Ambulances deserve right of way

The lack of respect for safety vehicles on their way to their destination should not be a reason for a loss of life

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Through reckless driving, speeding and bad weather conditions, our roads are often the scenes of horrific crashes and tragic loss of life. But even in the absence of accidents, the roads can still prove deadly for other reasons.

As The National reported yesterday, ambulances face increasing difficulties as they attempt to navigate through traffic, putting the lives of patients at risk. And despite the launch of a "Give Way to Ambulance" campaign by the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS) last week, the situation has seen little improvement.

Drivers claim that clogged roads and lack of clear rules results in these life-threatening delays. Many drivers are clueless at how to behave in such situations. "We have over 200 different cultures here with different education levels," said Khalifa al Darrai, the executive director at DCAS.

But it's not just ignorance of the rules that is to blame. Many drivers seem intent on showing disregard for the rules of the road, regardless of the serious damage, or deaths, that this might cause.

"When an ambulance has its flashing lights on, it means it's on a mission to try and save a life," said Mr al Darrai. "But many drivers refuse to give way, and put the life of the patient in danger."

This kind of behaviour is just one aspect of an inconsiderate driving culture that is too prevalent in the region. Dangerous overtaking, tailgating, excessive honking, ignoring seatbelt and child seat regulations and speaking on the phone or texting while driving, are born out of a combination of ignorance, and a lack of self-awareness and respect for other drivers.

According to the American Heart Association, a victim's chances of survival after cardiac arrest are reduced by seven to 10 per cent with every minute that passes without treatment.

For all the drivers out there on our roads, an ambulance's urgent need to get to its destination is well worth being a few minutes late for an appointment.