Test all drivers on UAE rules

People of more than 30 nationalities are allowed to convert their foreign driving licences without sitting any additional test. Silvia Razgova / The National
People of more than 30 nationalities are allowed to convert their foreign driving licences without sitting any additional test. Silvia Razgova / The National

The suggestion that every driver, regardless of their nationality, should take theory and practical examinations before taking to the UAE’s streets may not be a popular one. Many people will insist that their level of training and skills are superior, and they should not have to undergo further testing. The reality, as researcher Golnaz Hajbiglou told The National this week, is that knowledge of local driving rules and conditions is essential for all drivers.

Currently, people of more than 30 nationalities are allowed to convert their foreign driving licences without sitting any additional test. If the UAE were to introduce compulsory testing, it would be falling into line with the practice in many other countries. In the United States, for example, some states require drivers to pass both the written and driving exams, as well as an eye test, before they can transfer their out-of-state licence. Some of them have more specific requirements, including attendance at drug and alcohol awareness classes.

The driving environment in the UAE is undoubtedly challenging for all drivers, not just expatriates. As Dino Kalivas, chairman of the International Road Federation’s driver education and training committee, told this newspaper, these conditions include driving in heavy fog and through the desert. Mr Kalivas said that a proposal first made by a British consultancy in 2009 to unify licensing, training and testing procedures in the UAE is still relevant today. As the consultants said, all expatriate drivers should at least be required to complete a driving theory class before converting their licences.

If it is not possible to introduce widespread testing in the short term, perhaps expatriate motorists could be required to make a legally binding statement that they have clean driving records in their home countries.

There is no escaping the fact that the UAE has an unacceptably high road toll. All drivers must strive to do better. Insisting on common licensing standards is just part of a package of measures – including education and enforcement – necessary to decrease the number of accidents on our roads.

Published: April 28, 2016 04:00 AM

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