Senior UAE police officer says driving at age 17 should be considered

Teenagers can now get a job at 15 and can already ride a motorcycle at 17

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 20, 2013 -  Eng. Mohammed Saif S. Al Zafeen, during a press conference at the police officers club.  ( Jaime Puebla / The National Newspaper )

A senior police officer has said that young people of 17 should be allowed to drive a car in the UAE.

Currently, the law permits those aged 17 to apply for a motorcycle licence, but they must wait until 18 to learn to drive a car.

In a video shared online by Dubai Police, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafein said his recommendation has led to some debate on the subject.

“I respect all views, but my suggestion comes from a valid point,” said the assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai Police operations and chairman of the Federal Traffic Council.

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“We know driving a motorcycle is surrounded with dangers, while driving a car is much safer.”

“In my point of view, this shows contradiction,” he said.

Earlier this month, the government said young people will be allowed to get a part-time job from 15, effective immediately. The move will give young people a taste of the workplace and a sense of responsibility at a young age.

Maj Gen Al Zafein said when many schoolchildren finish their studies at 17, some have no choice but to get around by motorcycle, even though it is the more dangerous mode of transport.

Earlier comments by the senior officer also mentioned that some families have been forced to hire drivers for their children until they turn 18 and can legally drive themselves.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, said awarding a full car driving licence to teenagers of 17 would not be effective, but a phased approach could work.

According to Dubai Police data, more than 50 per cent of road fatalities involve drivers who have held a driving licence for less than five years, he said.

“It has to be taken into consideration that a further reduction of the eligibility age might lead to increased numbers if no proper measures are taken, Mr Edelmann said.

“Such measures could include a staged driving licence – meaning only vehicles up to a certain engine performance can be driven in the initial years. This can be adjusted upon good behaviour and no fines.”

Similar to other countries, Mr Edelmann said, if this law was to be amended, novice drivers should initially be accompanied by “older and more experienced drivers” after obtaining their licence.

In addition, Mr Edelmann said technology can play a vital role in instilling safe practice on the roads.

“For example, the mandatory use of tracking installations, such as telematics devices – which are like black boxes – or mobile phone-based safe driving applications could deter bad driving,” he said.

“Further potentials are within the education sector, meaning that students around that age should receive special road safety education in their schools or universities.”

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Updated: September 19th 2021, 2:12 PM
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