One in five UAE drivers involved in road accident in last six months, study finds

YouGov survey of 1,000 drivers reports more speeding, tailgating and lane swerving among motorists

Police in Ras Al Khaimah recently launched a campaign to spread awareness about safe driving techniques. Courtesy RAK Police  
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One in five drivers were involved in a road accident in the UAE in the last six months, a study found.

The YouGov survey revealed a rising number of motorists feel driving in the Emirates is becoming more dangerous, with speeding, tailgating and sudden lane changing a growing cause for concern.

The stark figures – based on perceptions of driving habits by 1,000 motorists across the country – do, however, show an increase in driving enjoyment, a reduction in travel times and a belief that fewer motorists are distracted when behind the wheel.

The UAE Road Safety Monitor, commissioned by campaign group Road Safety UAE in partnership with insurers Noor Takaful, has been surveying experiences on the UAE's roads every six months since 2015.

“We must understand the fact that proper behaviour and responsible road users are the main ingredients to making our roads safer,” said Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.

“We see positive perception trends with the authorities’ continued efforts in further improving the road infrastructure and the resulting positive factors.

“Driving enjoyment is improving and there is a slight reduction in commute times, but more needs to be done to educate motorists by improving their driving behaviour.”

When the survey was first conducted four years ago, 54 per cent of drivers believed the roads were becoming more dangerous.

In the latest poll – the eighth in total – 43 per cent shared that sentiment, an increase of three per cent on the previous study in 2018, but a marked decline since the question was initially posed in 2015.

The percentage of drivers admitting involvement in road accidents has varied between a low of 16 per cent and a high of 22 per cent during the eight surveys.

In the latest report, 19 per cent told researchers they had a road accident within the previous six months.

Several government-backed road safety campaigns have launched in recent years to increase understanding of good road habits.

We must understand the fact that proper behaviour and responsible road users are the main ingredients to making our roads safer

There has been a particular focus on young Emirati men after a recent UAE University study on speeding and collisions.

Researchers found men were responsible for almost 80 per cent of all traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi while almost 40 per cent of traffic fatalities over a five-year period in the capital were caused by Emirati motorists.

A summer campaign by the Federal Traffic Council called on vehicle users to regularly check the state of their tyres.

Ministry of Interior data showed burst tyres or poorly maintained wheels caused 785 accidents nationwide in 2018.

More than 1,100 people suffered injuries as a result of those incidents.

Some 5,000 motorists were fined in Abu Dhabi and had their vehicles seized in the first six months of 2019 for driving with unsafe tyres.

The latest UAE Road Safety Monitor study found calls to stop using mobile phones while driving appear to be working.

Sixty-eight per cent of respondents said they noticed drivers using mobile phones at the wheel or experiencing other distractions, down from a peak of 79 per cent in 2016.

This latest study is an important element to improving education on the roads, said Rajesh Sethi, chief executive of survey backers Noor Takaful.

“This unique perception study provides valuable feedback about the impact of these efforts aimed at increasing road safety,” he said.

“We participated in this study because we believe communicating these indicators to the public can positively influence behaviour and eventually decrease road accidents.”