ABU DHABI // Motorists who want to stay true to the spirit of Ramadan should be cautious and patient, according to road-safety experts.
To drive recklessly and hurt someone would "defeat the entire purpose" of Ramadan, said Dr Abdulilah Zineddin, an Abu Dhabi-based specialist in road safety.
PM Abdulrazaq, assistant manager of the instructor training centre at Emirates Driving Institute, agreed.
"Religion says that people have to be more patient," Mr Abdulrazaq said. "Patience is much needed for driving especially. This patience we practise in Ramadan, it can continue even after Ramadan."
There are many factors that make the roads more hazardous during Ramadan, including drivers who are dehydrated, hungry, tired and irritated from fasting, Dr Zineddin said. "Fatigue obviously is a big factor to increase the number of crashes."
Ramadan inevitably brings a change in sleep patterns for people who are fasting, Mr Abdulrazaq said.
"There are a lot of prayers at night-time and social gatherings, and also people are staying awake until the early mornings," he said.
But sleeplessness combined with the heat, dehydration and low blood-sugar levels can give people headaches and nausea and make it difficult to concentrate, Mr Abdulrazaq said.
"These kinds of problems affect driving especially," he said. "We have to give full concentration to driving behind the wheel."
One way to minimise the danger is to set a new routine during Ramadan and stick to it - striving for consistent meal times, a healthy diet, and as much sleep as possible.
"They have to plan a proper sleeping schedule," said Mr Abdulrazaq.
He schedules short sleeping sessions throughout the night between meals, prayer and Quran recitation, he said.
The rush home before iftar adds another level of risk.
"Do not rush and do not run red lights trying to get to iftar on time," Dr Zineddin said. "You can go a little bit late. People will understand."
A good strategy is to plan for more than enough time to reach your destination, Mr Abdulrazaq said.
"For example, Abu Dhabi to Dubai, if it is normally taking two hours, I have to start 2.5 or three hours," he said. "If I have plenty of time, I won't get irritated."
For motorists who are not fasting, Mr Abdulrazaq urged extra alertness and courtesy on the roads.
"They have to understand the people around them are fasting - they can't fulfil the task completely and effectively."
All motorists should expect other road users to make mistakes, he added.
"Consider all the drivers around you are going to do anything at any time," he said. "If you are thinking that way you can be more alert."