It's our common responsibility to make roads safer

Under the new rules, failure to fasten seatbelts while driving will costs motorists Dh400 per person and four black points.

By Thomas Edelmann (Behind the Wheel)

Published: Fri 30 Jun 2017, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 1 Jul 2017, 12:15 AM

The UAE's new and updated traffic rules and fines address many critical issues of reckless driving, distractions and compliance with registration rules. From a road safety perspective, all of those changes are commendable, but the one rule that is the most important, and can save lives and prevent injuries on our roads is about seatbelt use - the one person-one belt rule. The reason we want to single this out is because few passengers currently use seatbelts in the backseats of vehicles.
Under the new rules, failure to fasten seatbelts while driving will costs motorists Dh400 per person and four black points. Allowing children under 10 years old or shorter than 145cm to sit in the front seat of a vehicle carries a fine of Dh400 and four black points.
According to research carried out by RoadSafetyUAE in February 2017, only 78% of drivers (Emirati only 51%), only 71% of co-drivers (18-24 years old only 52%) and only 11% of back-seat passengers wear seatbelts. Thirty-four per cent don't have proper child restraint systems and of those who do have, 30% don't always use them for their kids. These numbers are very concerning. Global research shows that seatbelts save lives between 40-60%, and for kids up to 80%!
These facts show how important the new seatbelt rule is. It is not only important in the context of protecting motorists, passengers and our kids, but also in the context of the UAE Vision 2021 in which the government aims at decreasing the number of fatalities from the current 6 per 100,000 residents to 3 per 100,000 inhabitants by 2021.
However, the introduction of new rules and fines is only one side of the coin. It must be complemented by the strict enforcement of rule and education and awareness initiatives of the concerned stakeholders: government entities (MOI, Police, RTA, DOT, etc.), media, corporations who are mindful of the health and safety of their staff and platforms like RoadSafetyUAE.
It takes sincere efforts of the mentioned stakeholders who must push strongly to implement mandatory road safety curriculums for children and students of all ages. We want to see responsible corporations dedicating resources to educate their staff on an ongoing basis about proper and safe conduct on our roads. We want to see parents talking to their kids about the dangers on the roads and how to prevent them.
We want parents to talk to young drivers about their experiences and how to survive on the roads. In 2016, 45% of all accidents were caused by young drivers. We want to see responsible drivers who remind all passengers to wear their seatbelts. We want parents to make sure they have the proper child restraint systems for their kids and also use them. We want to see the UAE media to continue their support for the cause of road safety. It is up to all of us to make our roads a safer place.
With regards to enforcement, we want to see more innovative ways and technologies like mobile radar units, police officers with portable radar devices, section-control/average speed radar installations, CCTV monitored critical areas of 'misbehavior' and, in general, more police presence on the roads.
- Thomas Edelmann is the founder of Road Safety UAE

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