Road safety experts call for tougher minibus licensing

Calls come a day after two people died in an accident in Dubai

Two people were killed and 12 injured in a road accident on Sheikh Zayed Road. Courtesy: Dubai Police
Two people were killed and 12 injured in a road accident on Sheikh Zayed Road. Courtesy: Dubai Police

A road safety campaigner has called for tougher minibus regulations after two people were killed in an accident in Dubai.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, said dedicated minibus driver licensing needed to be introduced to prevent accidents.

He also said seatbelts should be made compulsory for all minibus passengers and that a limit on time at the wheel to combat driver fatigue must be introduced.

“Currently, there is no special licence required for anyone driving a van or minibus and this needs to be changed very quickly,” Mr Edelmann told The National.

“Drivers are transporting up to 15 people and there should be a special qualification for this. A dedicated licence needs to be mandatory.”

A dedicated licence needs to be mandatory

Thomas Edelmann

Two people died and 12 were injured following an accident involving a minibus on the Sheikh Zayed Road on Sunday.

The vehicle is understood to have veered off the road and collided with a barrier before overturning and catching fire.

“The licence [if introduced] should be renewed on a two-year basis based on good conduct and no fines,” said Mr Edelmann.

“Drivers should have to go undergo refresher courses. Only qualified and well-behaved drivers should be allowed to transport such a big number of passengers.”

There are more than 50,000 minibuses operating in Dubai that regularly carry up to 15 passengers at a time.

Mr Edelmann also called for the vehicles to be equipped with mandatory safety features before being allowed on the roads.

“We need features in the vehicles [such as an] automated emergency braking system,” he said.

“These technologies are available today and need to be swiftly introduced on a mandatory basis to protect passengers.

“To combat fatigue, a clear maximum driving hours regime should also be introduced."

Saleh Jafar, president of road safety group Gulf for Yasa, also called for greater accountability among minibus operators.

“I quite often see minibuses which have signs on them offering a number to call if you feel they are not being driven safely,” he said.

“The problem is many of these vehicles have some of the numbers scratched off or covered up with a sticker, so you can’t call the right number.

"Offering a landline number on the side of a bus is not enough. Quite often, it is the case, especially at night, that the office will be closed and nobody will be there to answer your call."

Updated: July 13, 2020 10:10 PM

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