UAE: Newly licensed drivers and young motorists responsible for majority of road accidents

UAE: Newly licensed drivers and young motorists responsible for majority of road accidents

As per a United Nations study, road accidents are a major cause of death for young people aged between 5 and 24 years old.

Obtaining a driver's license is a great accomplishment, providing the freedom to travel at will. However, this privilege carries a significant level of responsibility, and road safety experts consistently stress the importance of displaying safe driving skills.

This ongoing emphasis stems from recent statistics shared by the Ministry of Interior (MOI), revealing that individuals who obtained new driving licenses were responsible for 530 accidents out of a total of 3,945 significant accidents recorded across the UAE in 2022.

RoadSafetyUAE, on the other hand, concerningly highlighted that a significant portion, namely 41 percent, of the fatalities and 53 percent of the injuries recorded last year were attributed to young road users, including both drivers and pedestrians, who were below the age of 30.

Thomas Edelmann, the founder and managing director of Road Safety UAE, expressed his apprehensions regarding the worrisome trend, stating,

"The prevalence of new drivers causing severe accidents is deeply concerning."

"Out of the total of 3,945 significant accidents, 530 can be attributed to new drivers, amounting to 13 percent. We have gathered evidence from various sources indicating that newly licensed drivers face substantial risks."

Edelmann underscored the importance of not solely focusing on newly licensed drivers but also extending the attention to those with only five years of driving experience. He clarified,

"Dubai Police previously released data indicating that 43 percent of major accidents and 48 percent of fatalities involve drivers within their initial five years of holding a driving license. Therefore, the focus should encompass not just novice drivers within the first year but should be extended to the initial five years of driving."

As stated by the MOI, the primary causes of accidents within the young age group and among novice drivers include speeding, distracted driving involving phone usage, and inadequate following distance between vehicles. A separate report by Dubai Police revealed that out of a combined 3,281 significant and minor accidents within the emirate in 2022, the leading three types of accidents were sudden swerving (790 cases), tailgating (675 cases), and driving under the influence of alcohol (533 cases).

Furthermore, a specialized study conducted by RoadSafetyUAE in partnership with YouGov disclosed that younger drivers tend to exhibit riskier driving behaviors in comparison to older drivers.

The study's findings indicated that UAE motorists tend to adapt safer driving practices with experience as they grow older, concluding,

"It appears that UAE motorists adjust their behavior and adopt safer driving practices only with the passage of time and increased experience."

This vulnerability of young drivers extends beyond the UAE and is a global concern. According to a United Nations study, road accidents are a significant contributor to the mortality of individuals aged 5 to 24 years old. The report notes that young drivers often overestimate their abilities and those of their vehicles, resulting in a disproportionate number of accidents, especially during weekends.

Statistics also demonstrate the overrepresentation of young people in road accidents. Despite comprising approximately 10 percent of the population, individuals aged 18 to 24 account for about 25 percent of road accident fatalities worldwide. In Europe, over 29,000 individuals aged 0 to 24 years old lose their lives in road accidents annually.

Change in attitude

A pressing shift in the mindset of young drivers is imperative. Edelmann emphasized,

"To put it simply, young drivers exhibit riskier behavior and display less concern for their safety compared to older and more seasoned drivers. Young drivers demonstrate notably higher levels of distraction, engage in tailgating more frequently, and exhibit decreased usage of indicators and seat belts in comparison to the average driver."

"When delving into the reasons underlying their behaviors, certain patterns emerge. A common factor contributing to both speeding and tailgating is the pressure of running behind schedule. An absence of a conscientious attitude becomes evident through statements like demonstrating reduced empathy for motorists subjected to tailgating, indicating a decreased habit of using indicators possibly due to a desire to appear experienced, showing less insistence on passengers and children using seat belts, and displaying a diminished level of awareness concerning seat belt regulations."

What actions are necessary?

It is crucial to give special attention to the vulnerable group of newly licensed drivers and road safety. According to experts in road safety, cultivating safe habits should commence at the kindergarten and school levels. Ideally, this should involve the incorporation of mandatory road safety curricula within the educational framework of the UAE, a practice already established in several other nations.

Edelmann recommended a reevaluation of driving school education

"with an enhanced curriculum integrated into an improved teaching and evaluation process. Introducing phased driving licenses and incorporating monitoring technologies for novice drivers should be explored, adopting similar measures seen in numerous other countries."

Consistent reminders

Always prioritize safe driving and heed the following reminders:

  • Maintain the use of seat belts consistently
  • Adhere to prescribed speed limits
  • Ensure a suitable distance between vehicles
  • Utilize indicators at all times
  • Abstain from prohibited substances
  • Concentrate solely on driving, without distractions from passengers or mobile phones
  • Exercise caution in transporting (young) passengers until you feel adept and have gained sufficient experience to assume responsibility for the well-being of others
  • Share valuable safe driving tips and strategies
  • Always demonstrate care and consideration while on the road

News Source: Khaleej Times

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