Drink-driving the top cause of road deaths in Dubai

Figures from 2022 show the offence led to 533 accidents and 22 deaths

A road safety expert says education, enforcement and engagement can help cut the number of accidents caused by drink-driving in Dubai and the UAE as a whole. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Drink-driving was the leading cause of road death in 2022, passing distracted driving, sudden lane changes, tailgating and lack of attention.

According to data from Dubai Police, 533 accidents on the emirate’s roads were caused by drink-driving in 2022, from a total of 3,281 throughout the year.

The incidents involved 916 vehicles, resulting in 22 deaths and 129 injuries, eight of which were severe.

Substances that affect the mind, including alcohol, make a person lose their ability not only to drive, but to do anything else
Capt Saud Al Shaiba, Sharjah Police

Ministry of Interior figures shared by Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, shows drink-driving caused a total 30 deaths across the country in the same period.

Distracted driving, sudden deviation, tailgating, drink-driving and lack of attention account for 65 per cent of UAE road deaths.

“It’s essential to highlight the severe consequences drink-driving brings, not only in terms of the devastating accidents it causes but also the blatant disregard for the lives of all road users,” Mr Edelmann said.

“Alcohol impairs a driver's judgment and reflexes, leading to an increased risk of severe, often fatal, accidents.”

More to be done

Mr Edelmann said the statistics highlighted a disturbing indifference towards public safety, with motorists putting innocent lives in jeopardy, and called for a more comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem.

“Initiatives must include enhancing public awareness about the dangers of drink-driving through educational programmes that begin in schools, promoting a deep-rooted understanding of the risks involved,” he said.

Stricter enforcement of drink-driving laws, along with harsher penalties for those who flout them, would serve as a strong deterrent, he said.

Community-based efforts, including partnerships with local businesses to promote responsible alcohol consumption and safe transport options, are also crucial.

“Collectively, through education, strict enforcement and community engagement, we can mitigate the threat of drink-driving,” he added.

Capt Saud Al Shaiba, director of traffic awareness at Sharjah Police, also emphasised the dangers of drink-driving despite the offence being a rarity in Sharjah.

“Substances that affect the mind, including alcohol, make a person lose their ability not only to drive, but to do anything else,” he said.

“This is because driving requires concentration and the ability to assess road conditions and make a decision based on that.”

Highlighting the critical deficits caused by alcohol consumption, Capt Al Shaiba said: "Although the person driving under the influence of alcohol is usually able to drive the vehicle, he is certainly unable to control it.”

In a situation on the road that may require braking, he said: “A sober driver can modulate the brake pressure due to full consciousness, while an intoxicated driver lacks this precise control, potentially leading to collisions, pedestrian incidents or multicar accidents.”

Road tragedy

In a recent incident in Discovery Gardens, Dubai, a man died after being struck by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver on January 4.

The Indian motorist, 41, was sentenced to four months in prison, with a Dh10,000 ($2,720) fine and a six-month suspension of his driving licence.

The court also ordered the driver to pay Dh200,000 in compensation to the victim's family.

Investigations revealed the driver tested positive for alcohol consumption at the accident site and had disregarded traffic signals.

The man admitted charges of driving under the influence and causing wrongful death.

He claimed he was forced to swerve to avoid two children who suddenly appeared on the road, resulting in the vehicle veering off and hitting the victim on the roadside.

Updated: March 01, 2024, 7:55 AM