Game over: motorists warned not to play phone apps while driving

Abu Dhabi drivers caught flouting ban will be fined Dh800

Abu Dhabi police have warned motorists against playing games on their mobile phones while driving.

Officers said anyone caught behind the wheel using a gaming app would be fined Dh800 and given four points on their licence.

Traffic laws in the capital ban drivers from texting, taking photos, eating or even applying makeup.

Road safety experts welcomed the warning, highlighting how distracted drivers were a common cause of traffic accidents.

“Using a phone can take the driver’s attention away from the road and compromise passengers, pedestrians and those in other vehicles,” said Mr Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.

“This type of distraction has become a significant cause of road accidents and fatalities.”

Official figures for the first quarter of 2018, showed more than 12,000 Dubai motorists were issued fines for using their phones while driving.

Authorities now consider flouting the ban a serious offence, with penalties across the emirates including substantial fines and driving points.

Mr Edelmann said there were four leading causes of driver distraction: visual, manual, cognitive and auditory.

“The visual is when the driver takes his eyes off the road, manual is when he takes his hands off the wheel, cognitive is when he takes his mind off driving and auditory is when he stops listening out for traffic.

“While any of these distractions are significant, texting, playing or talking on the phone is especially dangerous because it combines all four types of distraction.”

Ahmad Jalal, 36, an Egyptian sales representative from Ras Al Khaimah who drives regularly for this job, said most drivers were aware of the risks of using their phone at the wheel but continued anyway.

“Authorities are working hard on spreading awareness,” he said. “We all think that everything is under control [when using phones while driving] but accidents happen in a split second.

“Playing games is a new one to me though. I certainly didn’t expect to hear about drivers doing that.”

Motorist Rawan, 25, from Jordan, said she had learned her lesson after crashing her car while adjusting her hijab at a traffic light.

Her foot accidentally slipped off the brake pedal and the car lunched forward, smashing into the vehicle in front.

“The damage was minimal but I was scared and didn’t think the car ahead of me was that close,” she said. “After that I understood how important it is to stay focused behind the wheel.”