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UAE: Dh400 fine for tailgating shouldn’t be the only reason for you not to do it

File photo used for illustrative purpose.
File photo used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai - Educating motorists and making them aware of the dangers of tailgating important, expert says.


James Jose

Published: Fri 30 Jul 2021, 12:04 PM

Last week, UAE residents enjoyed an entire holiday week on account of Eid Al Adha. Thousands made a getaway with their families and friends. And while they celebrated Eid at truly scenic and picture-postcard places, and soaked in the quiet, away from the hustle and the madness, the week also witnessed an increase in traffic that saw many accidents being recorded in Dubai and the rest of the country.

Speeding and failing to abide by lane discipline were some of the offences, but the one that topped the list again was not a surprise – tailgating.

Tailgating has been a perennial problem, not just restricted to the region but world over. According to a commissioned YouGov research study done by RoadSafety UAE and QIC Insured in 2017, with a representative sample of 1,010 UAE residents, it was said that tailgating is one of the most dangerous behaviours behind the wheel and always among the top five killers on UAE roads.

More than the risk of being slapped with a Dh400 fine, it is safety that must be motorists' primary concern, a local road safety expert has reiterated.

Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, and who continues to advocate road safety in the country, is no stranger to tailgating himself.

“Of course, yes,” he told Khaleej Times when asked if he had experienced tailgating.

That perhaps sums up the magnitude of the problem. Everyone has.

“We have done a bit of research on tailgating and the root causes of tailgating and why they are doing it. And the No.1 reason is running late. Some people are pressed for time so they are bullying other road users and they are tailgating. The second one is that the vehicle in front of them is too slow. So, they try to get ahead of them and have no road manners and that is the reason they get very close to the vehicle in front,” said Edelmann.

“When you ask people how they feel when they are tailgated, a big percentage of people have said that they feel anxious, irritated and scared. So, our advice is to just get out of the way. They might say they are going on the speed lane and despite the fact that they are driving within the speed limit, the vehicle behind wants to tailgate. And the vehicle in front doesn’t want to let them pass, which they should never do. So, the advice is always to get out of the way of these reckless drivers because this is the only way which keeps us safe,” he added.

The study also revealed that 81 per cent were aware tailgating is dangerous. About 33 per cent admitted to tailgating because of slow vehicles in front, while 23 per cent said that they tailgate because they are running late. Ten per cent were nonchalant as they admitted to tailgating because they too get tailgated. About 59 per cent said that they never tailgate.

“It is a multi-fold approach to improve the situation. One element is more education. This was one of the reasons why we did this research to basically put a mirror in front of tailgaters so that they can reflect and say, ‘well, it is really not good what they are doing’,” said the Austrian.

The study further revealed that a whopping 43 per cent of motorists admitted to not knowing the official safety distance despite the fact that they are taught and learned it at driving school.

When asked for the recommended safety distance at 100 kmph, only 24 per cent know the right distance, which is two seconds or 56 metres.

Contrary to what is known as the ‘two-second rule,’ 22 per cent believed that a mere one-car length is the recommended distance.

Asked about the ideal distance one should maintain, Edelmann said: “It is actually two seconds.”

“These distances are always measured in seconds and not in metres because the faster you go, the more distance you have to have in between the vehicle in front of you. Now, how do you do that? For example, you are on the road and the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark, for example, a tree, sign post or lamp post, you start counting one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two,” he explained.

In January last year, the Abu Dhabi police rolled out a new smart system that used radars to catch tailgaters. The new system detected the tailgaters for not leaving enough space between vehicles, and also the vehicle in front for not giving way to the speeding car on the first left lane (if driving too slow).

And these smart radars, along with traffic officers, recorded 35,073 violations last year.

In March this year, the Dubai Police and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) had launched a two-month initiative called ‘Give Way in the Fast Lane.’

Now, it is not just the tailgaters who face a fine and black points but also motorists who fail to give way on the fast lane.

But Edelmann felt that fines and black points or impounding the vehicle is not the simplest of answers or solution.

“Educating them and making them aware of the dangers of tailgating is the most important thing,” Edelmann reckoned.

>> Thimmaiah US, 32 years old

Lived in Dubai: 7 years

Have you experienced tailgating?

“I’ve been tailgated quite a few times. These big cars, they look even more huge in the mirrors and they flash at you. And sometimes, you don’t have space to go to the right lane. But the one behind is really impatient and they are on our back. So, there are chances of you panicking, especially if it is a new driver. And they might lose control and it might lead to an accident.”

What’s the distance you keep?

“I ideally keep a distance of one and a half or a two-car distance because at a speed of 120kmph, if you try to brake, it will take a distance of more than two cars for a vehicle to come to a halt.”

Have you tailgated?

“I have tailgated, I won’t lie but it is when I’m in the fast lane and I’m hard pressed for time and the vehicle in front is not moving to the right lane despite having the space to do so. But I’ve flashed from a distance and I give them a sign but they still don’t give way, the thinking being they are at the maximum speed limit. But, if the right lane is occupied, I don’t. There are some drivers who are very adamant and they don’t let go of the lane. Now, there is a new rule where you cannot block in the fast lane.”


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