As Ramadan approaches, motorists are being urged to be extra careful, be aware of their own limitations, to leave plenty of time for journeys to avoid the need for speeding and to expect the unexpected.
A study of 1,651 accidents during the holy month last year found that most took place during the late morning work rush hour between 10am and 11am as staff work shorter hours.
The survey, which was carried out by RoadSafetyUAE and I-Insured, also found that Tuesday was the most dangerous day to be on the road, while Saturdays were the safest. Motorists over the age of 40 accounted for 28 per cent of insurance claims and male motorists 77 per cent, making these the most likely groups to be involved in accidents.
Fasting can result in dehydration and low blood sugar, which in turn can affect attentiveness, concentration, vision and reaction times. In addition to fasting, the unusual Ramadan eating and sleeping patterns can cause fatigue, exhaustion, impatience and distraction.
Almost half of the accidents, or 47 per cent, were caused by Indian drivers, roughly in line with the percentage of the population that is Indian. Emiratis caused 14 per cent, Pakistanis 12 per cent, Egyptians 6 per cent and Jordanians 3 per cent.
Just 8 per cent of those involved in accidents were aged 18 to 24.
Thomas Edelmann, managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, said it is of the utmost importance to know how the Ramadan lifestyle can affect our own behaviour, as well as the behaviour of other traffic participants.
“Motorists must realise that even if they arrive late for a Ramadan event, people will understand. Good time management is crucial and motorists are urged to leave early enough and allow for a time buffer to reach their destination on time. We need to display a caring attitude for ourselves and for others in this very special period,” said Mr Edelmann.
More than 3,300 cases of speeding were recorded in Sharjah in the minutes leading up to iftar during the first two weeks of Ramadan last year.
Col Ahmed Al Naqbi, director of traffic and patrol department at Ras Al Khaimah Police, painted a similar picture for the northernmost emirate saying speeding was among the most common traffic offences recorded during the holy month last year.
“Motorists trying to reach their destination before iftar time by driving at high speeds are advised to leave earlier and avoid the rush,” he said.
“They also need to pay attention to the road, leave a safe distance between other vehicles and avoid driving if they feel tired or sleepy as many people don’t get enough sleep during Ramadan.”
Col Al Naqbi also urged motorists not to block roads surrounding mosques during prayer times and not to leave their children unattended in their cars, even if only for a few minutes.
Extreme heat can have a devastating effect on a child, because they are unable to sweat or cool down as efficiently as do adults, so suffer more from the consequences.
Underdeveloped thermoregulatory systems leave children vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, which intensifies in cars because of the greenhouse effect.
Col Al Naqbi said police patrols would intensify during Ramadan to monitor traffic. Light meals will be distributed to motorists during iftar so they may break their fasts and avoid needing to speed home.
Akram Sinan, a 29-year-old Jordanian, said that he has experienced motorists losing their tempers while driving during Ramadan.
“It’s the month of forgiveness and we are all encouraged to be more considerate towards each other but some drivers lose their tempers very quickly during Ramadan and they almost want to pick a fight over nothing,” said Mr Sinan, who commutes from Sharjah to Dubai every day for work.
“I work in sales so I spend most of my time on the roads and I see a lot of offences and most of them are speeding and tailgating.”.