Quad bike fatalities in UAE have police underscoring safety risks

In Abu Dhabi in 2016, 174 quad bike and three-wheeler bike accidents killed 19 people and injured 155.

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ABU DHABI // Nineteen quad bike deaths in the capital have prompted more warnings from police of the safety risks posed by off-road machines.

“Quad bikes are powerful machines and are typically used off-road,” said Simon Labbett, project director at Sheida, an Omani road safety body. “As a consequence of their power and off-road use, they are prone to turning over and falling on the rider.”

In the capital last year, 174 quad bike and three-wheeler bike accidents killed 19 people and injured 155.

Of those, 101 were caused by collisions, 56 were results of mechanical failure, and 16 riders were run over by other vehicles, figures from the General Directorate of Traffic at the Ministry of Interior showed.

The ministry warned bikers against overtaking vehicles and driving recklessly on residential streets or on main roads.

Any biker who does not wear a helmet risks a Dh200 fine and four black points on his or her licence.

Police said fines were issued to 106 quad bikers last year for flouting that rule.

Nationwide statistics on quad bike accidents were not readily available.

Police said anyone found driving a quad bike dangerously or on the road will be prosecuted, and their vehicle confiscated. However, they are a common sight on the roads in some areas – and desert riding is not without risk.

Last October, a man suffered moderate injuries when his quad bike was involved in a crash with a vehicle in Dubai's Al Aweir area.

Brig Saif Al Mazrouei, director of the Department of Traffic in Dubai, had said most of the accidents involving quad bikes were fatal.

“It is very unfortunate, because most of the time the victims of such accidents are young men, whose ages range between 16 and 25,” he said at the time.

Dubai is the only emirate with an age restriction – drivers under 16 cannot use the larger or faster models. Federally, the only other rules govern where the bikes can be used. Fines are handed out to drivers on main roads and in industrial areas.

Under Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority rules, quad bikes may not be used on asphalt roads.

Those who wish to open a business renting out quad bikes must make sure no quad bike is driven or rented unless it has been registered, or licensed by the RTA.

In 2010, the Ministry of Interior said it would discuss federal laws governing quad bikes, including setting a minimum age of 17 and introducing special testing and licensing.

Abu Dhabi Police were not available for comment on age restrictions, registration and licensing of quad bikes.

A staff member at Al Badayeh Eyes Tourism in Abu Dhabi said children aged 9 and above can rent their bikes, starting with an engine capacity 90cc. They also have bikes with 220cc and 250cc engines for older children, but did not specify the age range. The quad bikes need not be registered, the staff said.

In Sharjah, police said quad bikes were banned from the emirate's roads unless they were registered and users had a motorcycle licence.

Driving on the sand is not illegal and people can use them without registering them, according to Lt Saoud Al Shiba of Sharjah Police.

Earlier this month, Brig Ghaith Al Zaabi, director general of traffic at the Ministry of Interior, urged parents not to buy quad and three-wheeler bikes for their children unless they have a valid driver’s licence.

Parents who buy these four-wheeler machines for there children will be legally accountable in case of an accident, he said.

Mr Labbett agreed that should an accident happen, the parent should be held accountable.

“Do not let the child out on his or her own unsupervised,” he said. “Ultimately, parents have a responsibility for their children and their safety.”

If a parent were to give a quad bike to a child, then as part of the arrangement full protective equipment should be provided along with professional training for its use, he said.

“This is not just how to control the machine but how to avoid dangerous situations and addressing attitude to use,” Mr Labbett said.