Influencer films reckless behaviour on Dubai roads; expert reacts to viral video

The TikTok sensation was filmed driving without a valid license, using a phone while operating the vehicle, sitting on the driver's lap, and neglecting to wear a seat belt

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A Staff Reporter

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Published: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 7:28 PM

Less than six months after being arrested for dangerous driving in his country, a diminutive Russian influencer was filmed zipping recklessly through Dubai roads. The TikTok sensation was filmed driving in the emirate without a valid license, using a phone while operating the vehicle, sitting on the driver's lap, and neglecting to wear a seat belt.

The influencer was in Dubai recently, exploring the city with a Canadian-American group known for their prank videos and vlogs. In a video shared by the group, he is seen sitting on the console box of a Mercedes G-Class as his manager races on Dubai roads.

Midway through the trip, the influencer playfully hopped onto the driver's lap, took control of the steering wheel, and entertained the passengers with some quick manoeuvres. At one moment, he even managed to drive with just one hand, holding his iPhone in the other to capture his driving antics, although he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Thomas Edelmann, Managing Director of RoadSafetyUAE, highlighted that distracted driving, according to the Ministry of Interior's data from last year, is the leading cause of fatal accidents in the UAE.

Edelmann stated, "Abu Dhabi Police reports that 60 per cent of accident victims died due to the non-use of seat belts." He emphasised that the misbehaviour exhibited by so-called 'influencers' is both despicable and a criminal offence.

"The displayed behaviour violates several laws of the UAE government, with regards to driving in a distracted manner and failure to wear seat belts," said Edelmann.

Mobile phone distractions while driving caused 99 accidents in the past eight months, resulting in six fatalities and 58 injuries. Of these injuries, five were severe, 32 were moderate, and 21 were minor.

In the UAE, driving a vehicle without a licence can result in imprisonment for up to three months and a fine of at least Dh6,000, or one of these two penalties. Not wearing a seatbelt carries a fine of Dh400, while using a cell phone while driving may lead to a fine of Dh800.

"Using a phone while behind the wheel not only diverts a driver's attention but also significantly increases the likelihood of accidents," Major General Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Director of the General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police, warned last month. "A momentary lapse in concentration while checking social media or texting can have devastating consequences," General Saif said.

Edelmann added, “We need to change the behaviour of road users to the better, not to the worse. Respectable influencers do use their reach to promote the right things and the right behaviour. Clearly, the portrayed individuals not only violate the law, but use their influence in the wrong direction.

"Although at one point in the video, an asterisk indicates that some of the stunts were performed on a closed track, this behaviour is despicable and inexcusable."

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