Less than 3 out of 10 buckle up in back seat: UAE poll
Dubai - Under a law that was enforced last year, all passengers - regardless of where they are seated - are required to buckle up.
Only 27 per cent of back-seat passengers are buckling up in the UAE, over a year after the mandatory seat belt policy has been enforced, according to a September 2018 study that polled 1,016 UAE residents.
Commissioned by QIC Insured and RoadSafetyUAE and conducted by YouGov, the survey looked into how overall seat belt usage has changed since the new federal traffic law has taken effect on July 1, 2017. Under the law, all passengers - regardless of where they are seated - are required to buckle up; otherwise, the driver will be fined Dh400 and slapped with four black points.
"Now, more than a year after the new law got introduced, we wanted to take a look at how the seat belt usage levels developed," said Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE.
"International research shows that seat belts save lives between 40 and 80 per cent (of the time), depending on the type of impact and the age of the user (kids or adults)."
The 2018 survey was compared with a similar one conducted in February 2017, before the new law was passed.
Although the percentage of back-seat passengers wearing seat belts is 16 points higher than the 11-per-cent result in the 2017 survey - still, most of the poll's passenger-driver respondents appeared to be unaware of the dangers posed by unbuckled seat belts.
Fifty-one per cent of those who said they do not buckle up in the back seat - nor do they encourage adult passengers to do so - claimed they "feel safe enough without a seat belt". Thirty-two per cent said seat belts were "not necessary on short trips", while 17 per cent claimed they were "safe drivers and would not be involved in an accident", the survey showed.
The percentage of buckled-up back-seat passengers goes even lower among Arab expats and young drivers aged 18-24, with 15 per cent and 20 per cent compliance rates, respectively.
Several injuries - some are even fatal - from vehicular accidents can be attributed to unfastened seat belts. In fact, a 2017 study of Abu Dhabi Police showed that 60 per cent of traffic fatalities could have been avoided if only the safety belts were used, Edelmann said.
Dr Sona Rajan, a general practitioner, Al Zahra Hospital, said: "As a doctor, I have attended to several cases at the emergency room where passengers and motorists have banged their heads on the dashboard and on the sides of the vehicles - there was even a pregnant woman who suffered from head injury because she did not buckle up."
Overall, the survey marked nominal improvements in seat belt usage after the new federal traffic law was implemented.
Seventy-two per cent agreed that drivers must always use their seat belts, an increase of three points from last year's 69 per cent; while 73 per cent said front-seat passengers must buckle up, a two-point improvement from 71 per cent in 2017.
In the Emirati and young driver (18-24 years old) segments, however, drivers' seat belt usage is lower, with only 61 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. Only a little more than half in the segments of Emiratis (54 per cent) and 25-29-year-olds (64 per cent) said front-seat passengers were 'always' buckled up, the poll showed.
Child seat usage trends showed a relatively stronger improvement, with 76 per cent saying they now have proper car seats and boosters for their children, as compared to 66 per cent in 2017. Based on the federal traffic law, children up to four years of age must be provided with a safety seat. Violators will be fined Dh400 and four black points.
Mandatory seat belts for all: What the law says
> All passengers in a car are required to wear seat belts including those sitting in the rear seat, failing which the driver of the vehicle will be fined Dh400 and slapped with four black points
> Children up to four years of age must be provided with a child safety seat. Violators will be fined AED 400 and slapped with four black points
> The front seat passenger should also be at least 145 cm tall and not younger than 10 years old.