Why seat belt law is not clicking with some Dubai cabbies
Dubai - Dubai taxi drivers are struggling as some passengers still don't want to comply
It's been 21 days since the new law mandating the wearing of seat belts for all drivers and passengers came into force in the UAE. As per the new amendments made to the Federal Traffic Law, drivers could be fined with Dh400 per passenger and four black points on the licence if passengers aren't wearing seat belts.
In Dubai, once you enter a taxi and the meter is on, the Roads and Transport Authority's audio message reminds you to wear the seat belt.
Some passengers are still not paying heed to the message, taxi drivers say. With the new rule, they must encourage the passengers to buckle up. In some cases, however, passengers don't want to comply and often end up arguing with the cabbie.
Jeyanth Selvan from Sri Lanka has been driving a taxi in Dubai for four years. He shares his grievance: "Although everybody is aware of the new rule, few passengers in a day follow it. Some buckle up after being told, but some of them still don't, telling me that they will cough up the fine if caught." This often leads to uncomfortable arguments with them."
Cab drivers say that, usually, it is the expats from within the Middle East region who take the rule too lightly. "Although the new rules are in place to ensure the safety of the passengers, they think of it as a discomfort," says Ammar Karim, a Dubai taxi driver from Bangladesh.
The law is with the cabbies here - passengers who don't buckle up can be rejected by taxi drivers. However, the cabbies claim that they're hesitant to enforce it as they believe that such a move could affect their income.
"We can't refuse all such passengers as it will affect our daily targets. Customers are our priority," says another driver. The number of residents taking taxis during the summer months has gone up as many want to escape the soaring mercury, but taxi drivers say refusing customers is still not an option.
"Some taxi drivers have been fined and handed black points because of the arrogance of their customers. We wear our seat belts while driving and yet end up paying the fines. All we are asking is for the passengers to cooperate and follow the rules," says Karim.
What Dubai residents sayNoorjahan Khan, Business development executive
I wear a seat belt while travelling by Dubai taxi on my own accord and with the new rule, the drivers often remind me to. I follow the rule without hesitation as it is for my safety, after all. It is a great initiative but it will take time for people to understand its importance and implement it in their own lives.
Liboy Joseph, IT officer
In my four years in Dubai, I have always been cautious and used seat belts while driving my car or travelling by taxis. The new rule is a positive change and will help in saving lives. Everybody is aware of the dangers and the consequences of not wearing a seat belt and yet choose to ignore it. Hopefully, the fine would persuade them to follow the new rules.
KT PollOn Khaleej Times, we asked our readers about the new rule and an overwhelming 76 per cent said they wear seat belts while travelling in Dubai taxis.
Noorjahan Khan, Business development executive