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06 May, 2005

The young and the reckless

Who can blame Gulf News for running out of headlines? "Another day, another tragedy" is the latest intro to yet another tale of a death on the roads caused by yet another a reckless young dishdash. It is old news - something that happens every single day in the UAE - barely news at all. The Gulf has the worst per capita ratio of road deaths in the world - over 20 per 100,000, compared to less than three in Europe and two in the US. Among UAE nationals, the rate is nearly 40 per 100,000 people.

The authorities hold awareness campaigns, raise fines and punishments, introduce incentives, organise conferences - a decade ago they even tried flogging. But nothing seems to reduce the death rate. Fatalities have increased by 50 per cent since 1997.

Young men the world over are the worst, most dangerous drivers. In any country, they are the most expensive group to insure. The difference is that in most countries, young males drive older, cheaper cars that they have paid for with their own, usually hard-earned, money. They rapidly lose their licenses for speeding offences, after paying heavy fines. They face lengthy jail terms for dangerous driving.

But in the UAE, young men frequently drive brand new, fast cars. Very often, the cars are bought for them, reducing the sense of a vehicle's value. They have blacked-out windows aiding anonymity. Driving licenses are clean slates - there is no points system. Fines are still easily affordable to all but the poorest.

As Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, Director of the Dubai Police Traffic Department, puts it:

"Most of the fatalities are usually from the youth group who are the future of this country."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me if any UAE nationals ever fail their first driving test? I never see any of the male youths in those learner vehicles with the 2 steering wheels they use in Abu Dhabi. It is always TCN's and women.

07 May, 2005 15:22  

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