Shocking UAE road survey finds one in four young drivers admit to tailgating

Analysis of three-years of studies finds most of 18 to 24 year-olds often speed and tailgate and almost 40 per cent shun seatbelts

Young drivers have been urged to show more patience and consideration. Pawan Singh / The National
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Young drivers need to show more maturity according to road safety campaigners, who say many continue to speed, tailgate and shun seatbelts.

Motorists aged 18 to 24 scored lower than the average driver when it came to leaving seatbelts unbuckled, failing to ask passengers to wear one and becoming distracted.

RoadSafetyUAE found 17 per cent complained seatbelts "wrinkle their clothes" and 16 per cent said they "don't care how the driver of the vehicle in front feels".

Almost 30 per cent were unaware that passengers in the back seats have to be buckled up. The law enforcing that was introduced in 2017.

The findings were based on a series of RoadSafetyUAE surveys between 2015 and 2018 and echo the findings of a Ministry of Interior study into young drivers' attitudes. More than 1,000 drivers of various nationalities in the UAE were surveyed for each.

One in four young motorists even believe it is a sign of weakness to indicate, the survey found.

“Simply put, young drivers behave more dangerously and protect themselves less than older and more experienced motorists,” said Thomas Edelmann, managing director of the campaign group, which commissioned the research with Al Ghandi Auto Group.

“Young drivers are significantly more distracted, tailgate more, use their indicators and their seat belts less than the average motorist.”

Almost one in two drivers (49 per cent) admitted to tailgating where running late was the main cause for 32 per cent of the respondents.

A knowledge of the location of speed cameras was the reason why 53 per cent said they drove beyond the speed limits.

Testing the car’s ability to see how fast it could go was why 30 per cent said they continued to speed.

“A lack of a caring attitude can be observed by statements like having less empathy for tailgated motorists, not wanting to appear inexperienced, and being less demanding towards passengers and children to use their seat belts,” said Mr Edelmann.

He added that the problem was not specific just to this region. The United Nations says that the proportion of accidents involving young people is over represented across the globe, especially when compared to older and more experienced drivers.

“Young drivers pose a greater risk to themselves, their passengers and other road users,” he said.

“Death rates for 18-24-year-old-drivers typically remain more than double those of older drivers.”

The introduction of probationary or 'staged driving licences' for first-time drivers, restricting them to only driving in daylight, under supervision and in cars that are less powerful, could go a long way to improving safety on UAE roads, according to Mr Edelmann.

Countries that have already adopted this scheme include the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

He also called for driving institutes, schools and universities to instill a culture of safe driving among young people from an early age.

“Schools and universities need to address young drivers and raise the awareness for proper conduct on the roads,” he said.

“Parents and families need to provide a lot of hand-holding, especially at the very beginning of the young drivers’ driving careers, as they have the credibility and closeness to share their experiences first hand.

“Friends and peers of young drivers need to step up to their responsibility and they must not encourage dangerous or risky driving.”

However, a number of Dubai commuters told The National that older drivers were just as much to blame for accidents in the emirate.

"I have had three accidents on Dubai roads, one of them was serious," said Irene Sutton from Ireland.

"None of these were caused by drivers under the age of 30."

Stephanie Hughes, from England, said she experienced dangerous driving from much older age groups.

Mark Taquet, from Ireland, was also critical of the report for singling out young drivers.

"If you have been driving here long enough you will see who the real culprits are," he said. "It seems there are different rules for different people."

Indian national Mahak Mannan also agreed that young drivers were not being treated fairly. "It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with the skills of the driver," she said.

Drifting across lanes without indicating, drinking coffee or looking at a phone while driving, having hazard lights while driving and applying make-up while behind the wheel were just some of the examples of bad driving that one woman had witnessed on Dubai roads.

"I have been driving here for 22 years and have seen bad driving from all ages and all nationalities," said Martina Slattery, from Ireland.